This summer, I completed with a graduate student of mine a major report for the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative, which is entitled Land Degradation, Less Favored Lands and the Rural Poor: A Spatial and Economic Analysis. This study had three objectives:
- To determine the spatial distribution of global rural populations on less favoured agricultural land and in less favoured agricultural areas from 2000 to 2010;
- To determine the spatial distribution of global rural populations on degrading and improving agricultural land from 2000 to 2010;
- To analyse how these spatial distributions affect poverty in developing countries.
The table below summarizes our findings over 2000 to 2010 for the distribution of rural populations on less favoured agricultural land (LFAL), in less favoured agricultural areas (LFAA), degrading agricultural land and improving agricultural land.
A sizable proportion of the rural population in developing countries is concentrated on LFAL, which are subject to low productivity and degradation due to steep slopes, poor soil quality or limited rainfall. In 2000, over 1.3 billion rural people in developing countries, representing almost 36 per cent of the rural population, were located on these lands, and their numbers increased to 1.5 billion in 2010 (35% of the rural population).
Summary of spatial distribution of global rural population, 2000 to 2010
Developing countries are all low and middle-income economies with 2012 per capita income of US$12,615 or less (World Bank 2014).