Sluggish agriculture outlook.


Byline: S. Kamal Hayder Kazmi

International experts revealed that that in present years the growth rates of global agricultural production and crop yields have slowed. This has increased fears that the world may not be able to grow enough food and other products/commodities to ensure that future populations are sufficiently fed. However, the slowdown has occurred not because of shortages of land or water but rather because demand for agricultural products has also slowed. This is chiefly because global population growth rates have been falling since the late 1960s, and fairly high levels of food consumption per person are now being reached in many states, beyond which further rises will be limited. But it is also the case that a stubbornly high share of the world's population remains in absolute poverty and so lacks the necessary income to translate its needs into effective demand. As a consequence, the growth in world demand for agricultural products is predicted to decline from an average 2.2 percent a year over the past 30 years to

1.5 percent a year for the next 30.

In developing states the slowdown will be further dramatic, from 3.7 percent to 2 percent, partly as a result of China having passed the phase of rapid growth in its demand for food. The experts suggest that global agricultural production can increase in line with demand, offered that the necessary national and international strategies to promote agriculture are put in place. Global shortages are improbable, but serious issues already exist at national and local levels and may worsen unless focused attempts are made. The proportion of people living in developing states with average food intakes below 2200 kcal per day declined from 57 percent in 1964-66 to just 10 percent during 1997-99. Yet 776 million people in developing states remain undernourished- about one person in six.

Worldwide progress in nutrition is predicted to continue, in parallel with a reduction in poverty as projected by the World Bank. The incidence of undernourishment should decline from 17 percent of the population of developing states at present to 11 percent during 2015 and just 6 percent in 2030.

By 2030, three-quarters of the population of the developing world could be living in states where less than 5 percent of people are undernourished. Less than 8 percent live in such states at present. Undernourishment is a central manifestation of poverty. Presently, one in four people in developing states...

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