India has the highest net cropland area, ahead of China and the United States – study

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The global cropland map issued by the USGS

India has the highest net cropland area in the world, while South Asia and Europe are considered agricultural capitals of the world, a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) shows.

According to the study and a map that was released by the USGS, there are 1.87 billion hectares of croplands in the world, which is 15 to 20 percent—or 250 to 350 million hectares (Mha)—higher than former assessments.

The change is due to more detailed understanding of large areas that were never mapped before or were inaccurately mapped as non-croplands, the USGS said on its website.

While earlier studies showed either China or the United States as having the highest net cropland area, the latest study shows that India ranks first, with 179.8 Mha (9.6 percent of the global net cropland area).

Second is the United States with 167.8 Mha (8.9 percent), China with 165.2 Mha (8.8 percent) and Russia with 155.8 Mha (8.3 percent).

Statistics of every country in the world can be viewed in an interactive map here.

The USGS said that South Asia and Europe can be considered agricultural capitals of the world due to the percentage of croplands of the total geographic area.

“Croplands make up more than 80 percent of Moldova, San Marino and Hungary; between 70 and 80 percent of Denmark, Ukraine, Ireland and Bangladesh; and 60 to 70 percent of the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain, Lithuania, Poland, Gaza Strip, Czech Republic, Italy and India. For comparison, the United States and China each have 18 percent croplands,” the agency said.

With the global population nearing the 7.6 billion mark and expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, it is of increasing importance to understand and monitor the state of agriculture across the world in great detail, the USGS said, adding that this new research is useful to international development organisations, farmers, decision makers, scientists and national security professionals.

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