According to a news statement from CU Boulder, the study is the first to track the size and number of farms annually from 1969 to 2013, with forecasts through the year 2100.
According to Zia Mehrabi, the study’s author and assistant professor of environmental studies at CU Boulder, “We see a turning point from widespread farm creation to widespread consolidation on a global level, and that’s the future trajectory that humanity is currently on.” Key environmental and social consequences are correlated with the size of the farm and the number of farms.
The research was published in the journal Nature Sustainability with the title Likely Drop in the Number of farms globally by the Middle of the Century.
According to Mehrabi’s research, the number of farms globally is expected to decline from 616 million in 2020 to 272 million by the end of the century. The typical farm size will double during that period.
There will be a continuation of recent trends in some regions, like Europe and North America, while there will be a shift toward broad consolidation in other regions, such as Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Oceania, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Mehrabi composed.
According to the press release, the study found that even in rural populations in Asia and Africa that depend on farming, there will be fewer active farms.
Mehrabi examined statistics on rural population size, an agricultural area, and GDP per capita for more than 180 nations from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization in order to reconstruct the progression of farm numbers during the research time period and project them through 2100.
According to Mehrabi, one of the main causes of the decline in the number of farms worldwide is that when a nation’s economy improves, more people move to urban regions, leaving fewer people in rural areas to cultivate and care for the land.
Western Europe and the United States have witnessed this for many years. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that there were fewer farms in 2008 than in 2007.
Even if the amount of farmland worldwide stays the same, Mehrabi’s analysis revealed that fewer people will own and farm the available land in the future, which could endanger biodiversity.
According to Mehrabi’s statement in the news release, larger farms often have less biodiversity and more monocultures. Smaller farms are often more resilient to insect outbreaks and climate shocks since they typically have a greater variety of crops and wildlife.
This might put the world’s food supply in danger. Previous studies by Mehrabi revealed that the world’s smallest farms produce a third of all food on just a quarter of the planet’s arable area.
The fewer farms there are, the less indigenous farmers have access to centuries-old expertise. Instead, automation and contemporary technology have taken the place of this essential information.
According to Mahrabi, having a variety of food sources provides long-term advantages.
Your portfolio is rather diversified if you’re investing in the current food systems, according to Mehrabi, who stated in the press release that there are about 600 million farms worldwide. If one of your farms is damaged, it’s likely that the effect on your portfolio will be balanced out by the success of another. The impact of that shock on your portfolio will rise though if you reduce the number of farms while increasing their size. You run a higher risk.
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In order to preserve Indigenous knowledge, maintain climate resilience, assure biodiversity protection, and create improvement incentives for the global rural economy, Mehrabi expects that the study’s findings will influence policy.
For the human species and the food systems that sustain it, this scenario in which a small number of huge farms replace a large number of smaller ones entails both significant benefits and threats, according to Mehrabi’s analysis.