Changing diets and climate will keep food prices high

FOOD COMMODITY prices will remain “on a higher plateau” for the next decade, according to a new report from the OECD-FAO.


Though the market is “calmer” after record highs last year, growth in global population, increasing affluence, urban migration and changing diets in developing countries will keep prices high. Rising demand for biofuels will also play a part.


The ‘Agricultural Outlook’ report, published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) concluded that, with farmland area 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.


“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.


?”For consumers, especially for the millions of people living in extreme poverty, high food prices have caused considerable hardship. 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,” added FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva.


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