Population Density Fact Of The Day: The Netherlands Is An Agricultural Exporter

I’m not sure how relevant this is to the debate between Ha-Joon Chang and Jagdish Baghwati over the importance of manufacturing, but Chang’s point about Dutch agriculture is fascinating:

Take the case of the Netherlands. Unbeknown to most people, it is world’s third largest agricultural exporter, despite having little land (it has the world’s fifth highest population density). This has been possible because the Dutch have “industrialised” agriculture by, for example, deploying hydroponic agriculture (growing plants in water) that uses computer-controlled feeding of high-quality chemicals—something that would not have been possible if the Netherlands did not have some of the world’s most advanced chemical and electronics industries.

If the land area of the lower 48 United States were as densely populated as the Netherlands, the USA would need to contain about 3.1 billion people. And it seems that would conceivably leave enough land left not only to feed the country, but to actually export agricultural products. This is not a feasible policy proposal, obviously, but it underscores the extent to which rich, well-governed countries have the capacity to allow more people to come live in rich, well-governed countries.