The World’s Most Valuable Cash Crop

The World's Most Valuable Cash Crop

The Most Valuable Cash Crop

What is the world’s most valuable cash crop?

As with most things, it can be complicated and more nuanced to answer. However, ultimately it boils down to a few key factors: total amount planted, the rate of yield, and the revenue per unit sold. It also depends on whether we are looking at the absolute value, or the most value per acre.

The most planted crops throughout the world are wheat and maize (corn). Rice and soybeans are other key staples. However, these are all relatively low yielding and do not make enough revenue per tonne of product produced.

The highest yielding crops are sugar cane, sugar beet, and tomatoes. Sugar cane accounts for about 80% of the world’s sugar production, while sugar beet the remaining 20%.

Not surprisingly, the most lucrative cash crops from a value per acre perspective are illegal in many parts of the world. With a higher risk to grow these, there is a higher reward for the farmers. Cannabis has a value of $47.7 million per square kilometre, while coca weighs in at $37.7 million and opium poppies $6 million per sq. km.

The most lucrative legal crops include tomatoes ($1.4 million per sq. km) and grapes ($625,000 per sq. km). Interestingly, tobacco comes in the middle of the pack with a value of $277,000 per sq. km. Rapeseed (also known as canola) comes in at $60,000 per sq. km.

From an absolute value perspective, the world’s most valuable cash crop is cannabis as well. It is followed by rice, maize, and then wheat.

Original graphic from: Information is Beautiful


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  • Proteus1946

    It would have been interesting to compare the values of Marijuana to Hemp; both are Cannabis sativa, but different strains of the same plant, and different methods of cultivation. Hemp for fiber or seed or Hemp Oil can be legally grown in Canada, and is a valuable cash crop. There are over 20,000 different uses for hemp, other than rope.

  • John Liozeris

    In the US Corn is king, and we use customary units of measure such as acres and bushels. Do your cannabis $ figures include the money extracted by the legal system? As I suspect it does and is still too high.

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