September 26, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Global agricultural and food production are projected to continue to increase over the next 10 years, but at a slower pace of growth than the previous decade due to demographic trends, says a report jointly released on Thursday by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The report titled, ‘ECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2023-2032’, being the key global reference for medium-term prospects for agricultural commodity markets, says while uncertainty has risen due to geopolitical tensions, adverse climate trends, animal and plant diseases and increased price volatility for key agricultural inputs, global production of crops, livestock products and fish are projected to grow at an average annual rate of 1.1 per cent during the period, half the pace recorded in the decade ending in 2015.

Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are expected to increase by 7.5 per cent in the next decade – just less than half the projected output growth – indicating a significant fall in the carbon intensity of agricultural production. The livestock sector is projected to account for 86 per cent of the increased emissions.

The report estimates that the total food consumption is expected to rise by 1.3 per cent per annum to 2032, indicating an increase in the share of agricultural commodities used as food.

Total food consumption likely to increase by 1.3pc

In a special assessment of key farming input prices, which have risen significantly in the past two years, the outlook calculates that every 10 per cent increase in fertilizer prices leads to a 2 per cent increase in food costs, with the burden falling mainly on the poor, who spend a larger share of their budget on food.

Findings of the report say the demand for growth in cereals production is projected to slow, in part as per capita food consumption of most cereals is reaching saturation levels in many countries. In 2032, it is estimated that 41 per cent of all cereals will be directly consumed by humans, 37 per cent will be used for animal feeds, and biofuels and other industrial uses will account for the rest.

Global crop production growth will be mainly driven by continued progress in plant breeding and a transition to more intensive production systems. Yield improvements are projected to account for 79 per cent of global crop production growth, cropland expansion for 15 per cent, and higher cropping intensity for 6 per cent over the Outlook period.

Global growth of sugar consumption will be driven entirely by Africa and Asia, with demand projected to surge in areas where the level of per capita intake is currently low. By contrast, consumption is set to continue to decline in high-income countries.

Global average per capita consumption of meat is projected to increase by 0.1 per cent annually, mostly driven by middle and lower-income countries. Worldwide demand for meat is expected to increase through 2032, but per capita consumption levels in high-income countries are projected to decline in the coming decade, led by drops in Western Europe and North America.

Fish available for food consumption is expected to grow everywhere and fastest in Africa but projected rapid population growth in this region will limit per capita consumption increases.

Global production of livestock and fish is projected to expand by 1.3 per cent annually over the next decade, slower than seen in the recent past. Poultry meat is projected to account for almost half the increase in total meat production through 2032.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2023

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