Global demand for agricultural products is projected to grow by 15 percent in the next decade while productivity growth is expected to increase slightly faster. That will cause inflation-adjusted prices of major commodities to remain flat or at less than current levels.
Greater yields and production intensity, driven by technological innovation, will result in greater output even as global agricultural land use remains broadly constant. Greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture are expected to grow by 0.5 percent annually in the next decade. That’s less than the 0.7 percent rate of the past 10 years and less than the projected output growth rate.
But new uncertainties are emerging. The uncertainties range from trade tensions to the spread of crop and animal diseases. Uncertainties also involve growing resistance to antimicrobials, regulatory responses to new plant-breeding techniques and increasingly extreme climatic events. Evolving dietary preferences and policy responses to worldwide trends in obesity add to the uncertainty.
Worldwide the use of cereals for food is projected to grow by about 150 million metric tons in the next decade. That amounts to a 13 percent increase — with rice and wheat accounting for the bulk of the expansion. The most significant factor driving projected growth in food use of staple crops is population growth, which is expected to increase fastest in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
“The outlook makes clear that trade is critical for global food security,” said Ken Ash, director for trade and agriculture for the Organization for Economic Cooperative and Development. “Regions experiencing rapid population growth aren’t necessarily those where food production can be increased sustainably so it’s essential that all governments support open, transparent and predictable agro-food markets.”
Consumption levels of sugar and vegetable oil are projected to increase, reflecting the trend toward prepared and more processed foods. Much of the increase is expected to occur in rapidly urbanizing poor and middle-income countries. Concerns about health are likely to nudge wealthier countries toward reduced consumption of red meat and a shift from vegetable oils to butter.
Demand for feed crops is projected to outpace animal-production growth in countries where the livestock sector is evolving from traditional to commercialized production systems. The use of agricultural commodities as feed stocks to produce biofuels is expected to grow primarily in developing countries.
Trade in agricultural commodities is forecast to expand 1.3 percent annually in the next decade. That is slower than growth in the past decade – a 3.3 percent average – because growth in global import demand is expected to slow.
Latin America and the Caribbean account for 14 percent of global production and 23 percent of the world’s exports of agricultural and fisheries products. The region’s share of exports is forecast to increase 25 percent by 2028.
But the Latin America and the Caribbean region is facing persistent challenges in terms of food security. Many households are unable to afford the food they need. The region also faces natural-resource challenges. Ensuring a more-sustainable inclusive pathway for future growth will depend on developments in the areas of nutrition, social and environmental protection, and support for livelihoods.
There are strong growth opportunities in the region to produce added-value fruits and vegetables, which provide better opportunities for smallholders and healthier diets. Targeted policies could help farmers and consumers reap opportunities while protecting the region’s natural-resource base.
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