Worldwatch Institute reports the global agricultural population, individuals dependent upon agriculture, hunting, fishing and forestry for their livelihood, accounted for 37 percent of the world’s population in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available. That is a 12 percent decrease since 1980.
However, while the percentage of agricultural population has decreased, the actual number of people in agriculture actually increased from 2.2 billion in 1980 to 2.6 billion in 2011. At the same time, the non-agricultural population doubled from 2.2 billion to 4.4 billion.
Also of note, agricultural population grew in Africa, Asia and Oceania and declined in the Americas, Europe and the Caribbean during the period. Africa and Asia accounted for 95 percent of the world’s agricultural population in 2011 while the Americas accounted for less than 4 percent.
While the world’s agricultural population grew only slightly from 1980 to 2011, global agricultural output increased 112 percent according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Per capita production of agricultural goods increased 35 percent during the period.
Looking ahead, the FAO projects global agricultural population will decline another 0.7 percent from 2011 to 2020 while the non-agricultural population will increase 16 percent.