Global Agriculture Output To Meet World Food Demand As Food Prices Escalate Over Decade, Report Says

Food prices are projected to rise over the next decade, with the cost of some grains increasing between 15 and 40 percent, according to an annual report, released Tuesday from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), VOA News reports (6/15).

The report says although “[f]arm commodity prices have fallen from their record peaks of two years ago,” prices are expected to rise again without returning to the average levels seen during the past decade, the Guardian writes (Allen, 6/15). “For the next 10 years, the FAO and OECD forecast that significant food prices, with the exception of pork, would remain above the 1996-2007 average, in both nominal and real terms – adjusted for inflation,” the Financial Times reports. The report cautioned, “if history is any guide, further episodes of strong price fluctuations … cannot be ruled out, nor can future short-lived crises” (Blas, 6/16). 

Though worldwide agricultural output will grow more slowly over the “next decade than in the past 10 years” it still “remains on track with previous estimates to meet the 70 percent increase in world food production required to meet the market demand of estimated population levels in 2050,” an FAO press release states (6/15).

“Developing countries will provide the main source of growth for world agricultural production, consumption and trade,” the report noted, BBC writes. “For virtually all commodities, the projected growth in imports and exports of developing economies [over the next decade] exceeds that of the OECD area,” according to the report (6/15). Jacques Diouf, the FAO’s director-general, underscored this point at the report’s launch in Rome. “The role of developing countries in international markets is growing quickly, and as their impact grows, their policies also have an increasing bearing on conditions in global markets,” he said, the U.N. News Centre writes (6/15).

“The forecast of high prices is likely to exacerbate concerns about global food security,” the Financial Times reports. With the number of chronically hungry people passing one billion last year, “agriculture has drawn more attention from policymakers – particularly in the U.S. Earlier this year the OECD organised its first ministerial meeting on agriculture for 12 years” (6/16).

To address the issues it raised, the report “calls for enhanced agricultural production and productivity as well as a well-functioning, rules-based trading system to spur fair competition and ensure that food can move from surplus to deficit areas,” according to the U.N. News Centre (6/15). OECD’s Secretary-General, Angel Gurria said, “On the whole, this year’s outlook is cautiously more positive than in recent years. But going forward, governments should implement measures to ensure that farmers have at their disposal better tools to manage future risks, such as production contracts, insurance schemes and futures markets,” the press release states (6/15).