Main agricultural producing countries

Food drives the world; Aside from clean water, access to adequate food is the number one concern for most people on earth. This makes agriculture one of the largest and most important industries in the world; Agricultural productivity is important not only for a country’s trade balance, but also for the safety and health of its population.

With this in mind, which countries produce more agricultural products, which countries export the most, and what are countries around the world doing to increase their production levels?

SEE: Grow Your Finances in Grain Markets

Main producers

There are numerous ways to assess agricultural production, including pure tonnage and dollar volume of commodities produced. It is important to consider both, as it is often the case that critical food commodities in less developed countries do not appear as high dollar value crops.

Of the major cereal and vegetable crops, the United States, China, India and Russia are frequently listed as the top producers. It will probably come as no surprise to readers that China is the world’s leading producer of rice, but it is also the main wheat producer and the second largest producer of corn, as well as the largest producer of many vegetables, including onions and cabbage. In terms of total production, the United States ranks fourth in wheat. and first in corn and second in soy.

However, there are other important crops. Millet is an important crop in much of Africa and Asia, with India and Nigeria being the main producers. Likewise, barley, rye, and beans / legumes are not as important in the United States, but they are crucial crops in countries like Russia, Germany, and India.

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Main exporters

It should come as no surprise that countries like China and India rank high on the lists of top agricultural producers; These countries have large populations and domestic food security (that is, producing enough to feed a nation’s population with domestic resources) is a high priority. However, much of this production is used internally and the list of top exporting countries looks very different.


Exports (in billions)


$ 118.3


$ 79

Germany $ 70.8
France $ 68


$ 55.4

Here again, it is important to note the difference between volume production and high-value production. Holland is a tiny country; Their presence on the list is due to the high value of live flowers and plants (the Netherlands supplies almost half of the world total) and vegetables (the Netherlands is a leading supplier of tomatoes and chili peppers).

When it comes to the staple foods that feed the world – rice, corn, wheat, beans, lentils, and animal protein – countries like the United States, Germany, Canada, Brazil, and Thailand rank more prominently.

Commodity Leading country % of global exports
USA 26% ($ 7.6 billion)
porcelain 9.2% ($ 6.6 billion)
Palm oil Indonesia 51% ($ 10.4 billion)
Rice Thailand 34.5% ($ 6 billion)
Soy USA 50.5% ($ 16.5 billion)
USA 18% ($ 5.4 billion)

How will the world do more?

Almost all countries want to increase their agricultural productivity, but the way in which they intend to do so varies greatly depending on the country or region in question.

In countries like the US, Canada and Western Europe, there is very little land that can be wasted and infrastructure, such as roads, is well developed. Likewise, irrigation is widespread and fertilizers are widely used by farmers. This has led many countries and farmers to turn to genetically modified seeds to increase yields and reduce the need for expensive (and potentially polluting) fertilizers and herbicides.

The picture is very different in Africa and much of South Asia. In these areas, the infrastructure is extremely underdeveloped and simply getting crops to market (or inputs like fertilizers for farms) can be a struggle. Irrigation infrastructure is also lacking, leaving farmers much more exposed to climate variability. Not surprisingly, then, a major focus of the governments of these countries is to try to build roads, improve access to water, and encourage the use of inputs, such as fertilizers.

SEE: Build Your Portfolio With Infrastructure Investments

The bottom line

Although agriculture is no longer a major employer in North America or Europe, and food safety is not a preeminent issue for most citizens, it remains a vitally important industry globally.As investors saw a few years ago, bad weather and inventory shortages caused the prices of many food items to skyrocket rapidly and led to political unrest and unrest in many countries.On a more positive note, it is an important source of export earnings for countries across the development spectrum.

Given the importance of agriculture and the importance of increasing yields, companies that facilitate increased production must find their products in increasing demand. Whether it’s farm equipment like tractors, inputs like fertilizers and herbicides, or higher-yielding modified seeds, companies serving the global agricultural market have a large and still underserved market to tackle.

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  1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “FAOSTAT – Rice. “Accessed July 22, 2021.

  2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “FAOSTAT – Wheat. “Accessed July 22, 2021.

  3. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “FAOSTAT – Corn. “Accessed July 22, 2021.

  4. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “FAOSTAT – Soy. “Accessed July 22, 2021.

  5. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “FAOSTAT – MIllet. “Accessed July 22, 2021.

  6. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “Countries by product: tomatoes. “Accessed July 22, 2021.

  7. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “Countries by product: chili peppers and dried. “Accessed July 22, 2021.

  8. Foreign Agricultural Service. “The Netherlands Horticulture Market, “Page 5. Accessed July 22, 2021.

  9. Food and Agriculture Organization. “Work, “Page 1. Accessed March 6, 2020.

  10. The World Bank. “Food Price Crisis Observatory. “Accessed March 6, 2020.

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Mark Holland

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