Agriculture is responsible for around 80 per cent of global deforestation. Seventy per cent of the world-wide consumption of freshwater goes into agriculture. Moreover, within a mere 25 years, the fertility levels of a quarter of all soils under cultivation have declined significantly owing to too intensive or improper cultivation. Deforestation, over-grazing, excessive use of water resources and similar inappropriate practices have resulted to an inconceivable extent in the devastation of entire regions.

Many aberrations have to be attributed to the industrialised form of agriculture, with its intensive livestock farming, its monocultures and its frequently far too careless handling of fertilisers, herbicides and antibiotics. But in its present form, smallholder agriculture in the Global South, which is often referred to as backward, is not sustainable either. Degraded soils as a result of land use which is not adapted to local conditions reflect this unsustainable use. High population pressure and low area productivity not only exacerbate the lack of food but also raise pressure on farmland.