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Resources 2016, 5(4), 47; doi:10.3390/resources5040047

How Much Time Does a Farmer Spend to Produce My food? An International Comparison of the Impact of Diets and Mechanization

1
Instituto de Geografía, Universidad Autónoma de México, Investigación Científica S/N, Ciudad Universitaria, CP 04510 Ciudad de México, Mexico
2
Institute of Social Ecology Vienna, Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt, Wien, Graz, Schottenfeldgasse 29, 1070 Vienna, Austria
3
Center for Energy and Environmental Sciences, University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 6, 9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Brad Ridoutt
Received: 8 September 2016 / Revised: 22 November 2016 / Accepted: 9 December 2016 / Published: 16 December 2016
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Abstract

Work is one of the main inputs in agriculture. It can be performed by humans, animals, or machinery. Studies have shown strong differences throughout the world in labour required to produce a kilogram of food. We complement this line of research by linking these data to food consumption patterns, which are also strongly different throughout the world. We calculate the hours of farm labour required to produce a person’s annual food consumption for four scenarios. These scenarios are comprised of two extreme cases for production systems and diets, respectively, that illustrate prevailing global differences. Our results show that the farm labour requirements differ by a factor of about 200 among production systems, and by a factor of about two among consumption patterns. The gain in farm labour efficiency with mechanization is enormous: only 2–5 hours of farm labour are needed to produce the food consumed by a person in a year. This value is much lower than the time an average person spends on buying food, cooking, or eating. View Full-Text
Keywords: farm labour; agricultural production systems; international comparison; food consumption patterns farm labour; agricultural production systems; international comparison; food consumption patterns
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Ibarrola-Rivas, M.J.; Kastner, T.; Nonhebel, S. How Much Time Does a Farmer Spend to Produce My food? An International Comparison of the Impact of Diets and Mechanization. Resources 2016, 5, 47.

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