FAO, OECD warn of challenges to global agri-food sector

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An Afghan farmer harvests wheat in Zhari district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, May 9, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Wednesday warned of the challenges faced by the global agri-food sector in the coming decade.

The sector needs to "feed an ever-increasing population in a sustainable manner," the UN agencies said in a joint report titled "Agricultural Outlook for 2022-2031".

It also has to cope with the impact of the climate crisis and the economic consequences and disruption to food supply caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, said the report.

The report focuses on "assessing the medium-term prospects for agricultural commodity markets."

The two organizations underlined the "crucial role of additional public spending and private investment in production, information technology and infrastructure as well as human capital to raise agricultural productivity."

The prices of agricultural products have increased with the recovery in demand after the COVID-19 outbreak. Production and transportation costs have increased also because Russia and Ukraine are both "key suppliers of cereals."

"These rising prices of food, fertilizer, feed and fuel, as well as tightening financial conditions are spreading human suffering across the world," FAO Director General Qu Dongyu said in a press release.

"An estimated 19 million more people could face chronic undernourishment globally in 2023 if the reduction of global food production and food supply from major exporting countries, including Russia and Ukraine, results in lower food availability worldwide," he said.

The report noted that global food consumption "is projected to increase by 1.4 percent annually over the next decade, and to be mainly driven by population growth."

In low and middle-income countries, demand for food will continue to increase compared to high-income countries, where demand will be "limited by slow population growth and a saturation in the per capita consumption of several food commodity groups."

The FAO and OECD expect global agricultural production to increase by 1.1 percent per year over the next decade.

According to the report, the contribution of agriculture to climate change with direct greenhouse gas emissions is projected to increase by 6 percent in the next decade, with livestock accounting for 90 percent of this increase.

In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal on Zero Hunger, the organizations noted that average agricultural productivity must increase by 28 percent in the next decade.

"The Paris Agreement, the UN 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals must also be achieved," they stressed.

The FAO and OECD mentioned the importance of a transparent, predictable and rules-based multilateral trading system to ensure "well-functioning global trade and markets" as there will be an increase in "interdependency between trading partners."

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