State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Water/commodity series (2)Per capita wheat production: China, US, and India

Using wheat production and population data for China, US, and India since 1960, we analyzed % change in production and population and per capita wheat production. This link contains the data we used and the time series chart for comparison of per capita wheat production. Because per capita wheat consumption is fairly stable over time (though it can change a little bit by changing lifestyle, diet, economic status, etc), from per capita wheat production, it can be shown whether a country is self-sustained, in need of significantly huge import, or in excess for export.

Though per capita consumption of wheat is different for countries and diets, per capita consumption of wheat, in general, is estimated to be 50~150kg per year. And our chart shows that China and India are producing wheat less than 100kg of wheat per person per year, which means that these countries are just meeting their needs of food consumption or in need or imports. On the other hand, US has always been producing more than 150kg per person per year, which explains not only why US has been one of the top countries in exporting wheat but also why US has not been as much motivated as China to invent in improving yield.

Related to the previous post about wheat yield, though China is showing much higher yield than India with as much agricultured land as India, China’s per capita wheat production is only slightly higher than India because of much more population. After all, what really matters to each country is per capita production that can meet per capita consumption.

(work by Timothy Gildner and Ju Young Lee)

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