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Agri output to keep food prices low
Economy

Agri output to keep food prices low

Agency News

New Delhi, Jul 9 : Global demand for agricultural products is projected to grow by 15 per cent over the coming decade, while agricultural productivity growth is expected to increase slightly faster, causing inflation-adjusted prices of the major commodities to remain at or below their current levels, says a report.

Worldwide, the use of cereals for food is projected to grow by about 150 million tonnes over the 10- year period - amounting to a 13 per cent increase - with rice and wheat accounting for the bulk of the expansion. The most significant factor behind the projected growth in food use of staple products is population growth, which is expected to rise fastest in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, says the Agriculture Outlook report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

The report finds that consumption levels of sugar and vegetable oil are projected to rise, reflecting the ongoing trend towards prepared and more processed foods, notably in many rapidly-urbanising low and middle-income countries. Concerns about health and wellbeing, meanwhile, are likely to nudge numerous higher-income countries towards lower consumption of red meat and a shift from vegetable oils to butter.

The Outlook projects that yield improvements and higher production intensity, driven by technological innovation, will result in higher output even as global agricultural land use remains broadly constant. Direct greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, meanwhile, are expected to grow by some 0.5 percent annually over the coming decade, below the 0.7 percent rate of the past 10 years and below the projected output growth rate - indicating declining carbon intensity.

At the same time, new uncertainties are emerging on top of the usual risks facing agriculture. These include disruptions from trade tensions, the spread of crop and animal diseases, growing resistance to antimicrobial substances, regulatory responses to new plant-breeding techniques, and increasingly extreme climatic events.

Uncertainties also include evolving dietary preferences in light of health and sustainability issues and policy responses to alarming worldwide trends in obesity. "The Outlook makes abundantly clear that trade is critical for global food security," said OECD Director for Trade and Agriculture Ken Ash. "Regions that are experiencing rapid population growth are not necessarily those where food production can be increased sustainably, so it is essential that all governments support open, transparent and predictable agro-food markets." (UNI)