October 17, 2012 / 5:10 PM / 7 years ago

More trade, investment needed to meet food demand - report

Oct 17 (Reuters) - More investment is needed to increase food production in Africa and Asia as rising demand and scarce resources leave millions of people vulnerable to hunger, a corporate-backed report said on Wednesday.

Only 13 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s total food demand in 2050 would be met without more investment in such things as technology and infrastructure, according to the Global Harvest Initiative public policy advocacy group in Washington. East Asia would be able to satisfy 74 percent of total food demand by 2050, the group’s third annual report said.

“We cannot meet future global food demand unless agricultural productivity increases are achieved in every region,” said the group’s executive director, Margaret Zeigler.

She said that more trade, public and private sector investments, and assistance programs, are needed to help meet rising food demands.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says that globally, farmers must produce 70 percent more food by 2050 to meet demand of the world’s projected population of 9 billion.

The Global Harvest Initiative is organized and led by companies involved in food and agriculture and technology, including biotech seed and pesticide leaders Monsanto Co and DuPont and equipment maker Deere & Co.

Among its goals are reduced trade barriers for agriculture, b roader acceptance of agricultural technology, including genetically modified seeds; increased investment in rural infrastructure and more funding for agricultural research.

“No one particular solution is going to be the thing that solves it everywhere,” said DuPont Vice President Jerry Flint, who chairs the Global Harvest Initiative.

Flint said access, usage and sustainability of water resources all need to be addressed over the long term.

Food demand in Asia is primarily tied to rising incomes and demand will outstrip supply, the report said. Food demand is expected to grow 3.64 percent each year between 2000 and 2030. In South and Southeast Asia, food demand is estimated to grow annually by 2.75 percent.

The report said in the Middle East and Northern Africa, agricultural production will be able to satisfy roughly 83 percent of total food demand in 2050 if it maintains a current rate of “total factor productivity,” or TFP. The term reflects the amounts of total inputs used per unit of output, including comparisons of the growth of output to the growth of input use.

Latin America and the Caribbean will produce a substantial food surplus by 2050 if the current TFP rate is maintained, the report said. However, investment is needed in infrastructure and continued productivity improvements to maximize the region’s prospects to become a net food exporter, the report said.

The report said areas in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have “enormous agricultural production potential,” but currently low productivity.

Given the wide global disparity in purchasing power, achieving necessary food production by 2050 requires improving the productivity of farmers in every major region, and across all scales of agriculture, from smallholder to commercial exporter, and preserving those gains, the report said.

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