Between 1980 and 2011, the economically active agricultural populations of China and India grew by 33 and 50%, respectively, due to overall population growth, the Worldwatch Institute said in its report on Wednesday.
The economically active agricultural population of the United States, on the other hand, declined by 37% as a result of large-scale mechanisation, improved crop varieties, fertilisers, pesticides, and federal subsidies all of which contributed to economies of scale and consolidation in US agriculture, it said.
The global agricultural population defined as individuals dependent on agriculture, hunting, fishing, and forestry for their livelihood accounted for over 37% of the worlds population in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available.
This is a decrease of 12% from 1980, when the worlds agricultural and nonagricultural populations were roughly the same size.
Although the agricultural population shrunk as a share of total population between 1980 and 2011, it grew numerically from 2.2 billion to 2.6 billion people during this period, writes Worldwatch Senior Fellow Sophie Wenzlau in the Institutes latest Vital Signs Online trend.
According to the report, between 1980 and 2011, Africas agricultural population grew by 63%, and its nonagricultural population grew by 221%.
Asias agricultural population grew by 20%, and its nonagricultural population grew by 134%, it said.
The combination of movement to cities and agricultural consolidation caused agricultural populations to decline in Europe and the Americas between 1980 and 2011: by 66% in Europe, 45% in North America, 35% in South America, 13% in Central America, and 7% in the Caribbean, the report added.