Developing countries are projected to lead the growth in agricultural production in the coming decade, according to a study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Worldwide production is expected to increase by 22 percent by 2019. OECD countries are expected to grow 10 percent and Europe is expected to grow only 4 percent while China is expected to grow 26 percent, while Brazil will lead with 40 percent. Least Developed Countries (LCDs) – a group consisting of 49 of the poorest nations in the world – are expected to see their agricultural production increase by 33 percent.
The report cites rising biofuel production and the resumption of economic growth – particularly in developing countries – as factors pushing up the demand and prices for the next decade.
In addition to growing populations, growing demand from developing countries is also driven by “increasing affluence and an expanding middle class.” The report also noted that increased affluence will cause developing country populations to diversity away from staple foods towards meats and dairy products.
Besides growing demand, Ben Buckner, analyst at AgResource Company, sees the greater availability of arable land as another factor that explains the expected increased production in developing countries.
For one thing, many of these countries have land available for cultivation. In addition, they are also using relatively primitive agricultural technology -- therefore, the application of modern science will likely dramatically increase crop yields.
Contrastingly, in Europe and the U.S., crops are already produced efficiently using the latest technology. There is also a scarcity of unused land (which are not designated for other purposes) that these countries are willing to use for crop cultivation.
Buckner also said that for developing countries, investing in agricultural production can not only meet growing domestic demand, but it may also cultivate a successful industry that can eventually export to the global market.
Speaking on the idea that the world cannot produce enough food to feed its swelling population, Buckner said there is more than enough land to accommodate the growing demand in the foreseeable future.
Cultivating that land and effectively distributing the food to feed everyone, however, is another matter.
The OECD-FAO added that food poverty is caused by “food accessibility” rather than “food availability.”
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