Agriculture and fisheries

Agriculture more resilient to global crisis than other sectors, says OECD and FAO

 

17/06/2009 - Because food is a basic necessity, the agriculture sector is showing more resilience to the global economic crisis than other industries. But, the risks could increase if the economic downturn deepens according to a new report by the OECD and UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

 

Falls in agricultural prices and in the production and consumption of farm goods are likely to be moderate as long as the economic recovery begins within two to three years, says the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2009-2018.  As the downturn lowers food prices, pressure is eased on recession-hit consumers who have less money to spend, it says.

 

Food prices have come down from the record peak of early 2008 but they remain high in many poor countries. Over the coming decade prices for all farm commodities except beef and pigmeat - even when adjusted for inflation - are unlikely to fall back to their average levels before the 2007-08 peaks.

 

Average crop prices are projected to be 10 - 20 percent higher in real terms (adjusted for inflation) for the next 10 years compared with the average for the period 1997-2006. Prices for vegetable oils are expected to be more than 30 percent higher. An expected economic recovery, renewed food demand growth from developing countries and the emerging biofuel markets are the key drivers underpinning agricultural commodity prices and markets over the medium term.

 

The report warns that episodes of extreme price volatility similar to the hike in 2008 cannot be ruled out in coming years, particularly as commodity prices have become increasingly linked to oil and energy costs and environmental experts warn of more erratic weather conditions.

 

Although agricultural production, consumption and trade are expected to increase in developing countries, food insecurity and hunger is a growing problem for the world’s poor. The report argues that the longer term problem is access to food rather than food availability, with poverty reduction and economic growth a big part of the solution. Agriculture growth is key for sustainable development and poverty reduction since 75 per cent of the poor in developing countries live in rural areas.

 

The report says in addition to more effective international aid, governments can best support domestic agricultural development through targeted policies such as infrastructure investment, establishing effective research and development systems and providing incentives for sustainable use of soil and water. It also emphasises the need for greater opening of agricultural markets and broadening economic development beyond farming in poor rural regions.

 

For full details of the publication and how to obtain can be found at www.agri-outlook.org

 

Further information about the OECD’s work on agriculture can be found at www.oecd.org/agriculture

 

For further information about OECD, journalists are invited to contact the OECD Media Division (tel: 00 331 4524 9700) and at FAO,contact Erwin Northoff  at FAO’s Media Relations Office (tel: (+39) 06 570 53625) or visit www.fao.org.

 

 

 

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