UN foresees low food prices in 2017-2026, but urges countries to keep markets stable


UNITED NATIONS, July 11 (APP): Noting projections of low prices for food
commodities over the next decade on the back of abundant stocks of cereal and other
staples, the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) have, in a report, underlined the need for governments continue
efforts to provide stability to world food markets.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)-OECD
Agricultural Outlook 2017-2026 projections, per capita demand for food staples may not
rise (except in least developed countries), growth in demand for meat may slow, and
additional calories and protein consumption could come mainly from vegetable oil, sugar
and dairy products.
Furthermore, with estimates that by 2026, the average calorie
availability could reach 2,450 kilo-calorie (kcal) per person per day in least developed
countries and exceed 3,000 kcal in other developing countries, food insecurity and
malnutrition would still remain a persistent global problem, requiring a coordinated
international approach, noted the Outlook.
“Food alone is not enough to eliminate undernourishment and other
forms of malnutrition,” FAO Director-General Jos Graziano da Silva, at the launch of the
“Access to the additional calories is extremely important. More
challenging is the fight against malnutrition: Fighting malnutrition requires a diversified,
safe and nutritious diet, ideally produced with a lower environmental footprint,” he added.
The report also points to potential higher crop yields. For instance, up
to 90 per cent of the increase in maize production is expected from increased yields and
just 10 per cent from expansion of area under cultivation. Similarly, yield gains are
projected to account for 85 per cent of the increase in wheat production.
Additionally, growth in meat and dairy production is expected to come
from both larger herds and higher output per-animal and it is foreseen that aquaculture
would dominate growth in the fish sector and farmed fish production will be the
fastest-growing protein source among all commodities analysed in the Outlook.
Continued vigilance needed on part of governments
The Outlook, however, also calls on all countries to remain vigilant to
shocks and instability.
“As we have seen in the past, unexpected events can easily take
markets away from these central trends, so it is essential that governments continue
joint efforts to provide stability to world food markets,” said OECD Secretary-General
Angel Gurr a at the launch.
“It is equally important that we look ahead as we seek to meet the
fundamental challenge facing world food and agriculture: to ensure access to safe,
healthy, and nutritious food for a growing world population, while at the same time using
natural resources more sustainably and making an effective contribution to mitigating
climate change,” he added.
The focus of this edition of the Agricultural Outlook is the south-east
Asian region.
The region has seen strong economic growth and rapid development in
agriculture and fishery sectors, which the report notes, has enabled it to significantly
reduce undernourishment in recent years.
However, the growth of agriculture and fisheries, in particular in the
export-oriented fish and palm oil sectors, has led to rising pressure on natural resources.
Improved resource management and increased research and development
will, therefore, be needed to achieve sustainable productivity growth across the sectors
and, given the region’s sensitivity to climate change, investments will be required to
facilitate adaption, according to the report.