Tuesday, July 05, 2011

New UN report calls for more support to small farmers

The United Nations has echoed the call for more support to be given to small farmers. A new report that looks at the world's economy says that small farmers need to increase output in order to control future food price shocks. The report calls on world governments to develop new loan and grant programs for the small farmer.

From Reuters, writer Robert Evans has this look at what is within the report.

In its annual World Economic and Social Survey, it said a transformation from large-scale and intensive systems of agriculture was vital if growing environmental and land degradation was to be avoided.

The food crisis of 2007-08 and a price spike this year "have revealed deep structural problems in the global food system and the need to increase resources and innovation in agriculture so as to accelerate food production," the survey declared.

Food production, it said, would have to increase between 70 and 100 per cent by 2050 to sustain a world population that would have grown by 35 per cent from the present 6.9 billion to around 9 billion by that time.

"With current agricultural technology, practices and land-use patterns, this cannot be achieved without further contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and land degradation," the survey argued.

In its turn, the resulting environmental degradation would undermine any growth in food productivity.

Of the nearly one seventh of the global population, some 925 million people who are undernourished -- or lacking access to enough food to make possible an active and healthy life -- 98 per cent live in developing countries, according to the survey.

Two thirds of them are concentrated in seven countries -- Bangladesh, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan. Overall, 578 million are in Asia and the Pacific and 239 million in sub-Saharan Africa.

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