Increased productivity, sustainable food system improve global food security - FAO

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - While international agricultural commodity markets appear to have reached calmer conditions after record highs last year, food commodity prices are anticipated to remain on a higher plateau over the next decade, according to the latest Agricultural Outlook by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

This will be underpinned by firm demand but a slowing growth in global production, the OECD-FAO said.

The report was published Wednesday by the FAO in Rome.

The report suggests that in addition to population growth, higher per capita incomes, urban migration and changing diets in developing countries (where there is rising requirement for biofuel feedstocks), are underpinning demand pressures.

At the same time, agricultural output by traditional exporting developed countries has been slow to respond to higher prices in the last decade.

Higher demand will be met increasingly by supplies that come to market at higher cost.

With farmland areas expected to expand only slightly in the coming decade, additional production will need to come from increased productivity, including by reducing productivity gaps in developing countries, the report said.

The Outlook anticipates that agricultural output growth will slow to an average of 1.7 percent annually over the next 10 years, down from a trend rate of over 2 percent per year in recent decades.

Higher input costs, increasing resource constraints, growing environmental pressures and the impacts of climate change will all serve to dampen supply response.

Much of the projected growth will come from developing countries, which will increasingly dominate in the production of most agricultural commodities, and also take on a more important role in commodity trade.

"Increased productivity, green-growth and more open markets will be essential if the food and nutrition requirements of future generations are to be met," said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. "Governments should renounce trade-distorting practices and create an enabling environment for a thriving and sustainable agriculture underpinned by improved productivity.

"We have highlighted many of these issues in our work on food security for the G20 and this Outlook provides further important analysis and recommendations to governments. For consumers, especially for the millions of people living in extreme poverty, high food prices have caused considerable hardship."

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, said "We need to redouble our efforts to bring down the number of hungry people. We must focus on increasing sustainable productivity growth, especially in developing countries, and especially for small producers.

"High real prices for agricultural commodities provide higher incentives for farmers and rural development, especially where markets are open and price mechanisms function well, and where farmers also have the capacity to respond."

The Outlook notes that 25 percent of all agricultural land is highly degraded; critical water scarcity in agriculture is a fact for many countries and several fish stocks are over-exploited or at risk.

There is a growing consensus that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and climatic patterns are changing in many parts of the world.

Beyond its call for complementary policies to address productivity and sustainability, the report recognizes that the private sector will play the lead role in agriculture going forward.

Governments should encourage better agronomic practices, create the right commercial, technical and regulatory environment and strengthen agricultural innovation systems, including research, education, extension, and infrastructure, with attention to the specific needs of smallholders.
-0- PANA DJ/VAO 11July2012

11 juillet 2012 14:26:34

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