The growing uncertainties created by COVID-19 cloud the medium-term prospects for agriculture

The fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic is creating unprecedented uncertainties in global food supply chains due to potential bottlenecks in labor markets and in the input sector, agricultural production, food processing, transportation and logistics, as well as changes in demand for food products and services. In the short term, the economic and social repercussions of the pandemic put the overall positive medium-term prospects for world agricultural production and food consumption on hold. Governments must develop balanced policies that respond to immediate challenges, such as the job shortage, and that create lasting conditions for the agricultural sector to “get back on a better footing,” according to a new report released today by Angel Gurría. , Secretary-General of the OECD , and Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The growing uncertainties created by COVID-19 cloud the medium-term prospects for agriculture
The growing uncertainties created by COVID-19 cloud the medium-term prospects for agriculture

The fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic is creating unprecedented uncertainties in global food supply chains due to potential bottlenecks in labor markets and in the input sector, agricultural production, food processing, transportation and logistics, as well as changes in demand for food products and services. In the short term, the economic and social repercussions of the pandemic put the overall positive medium-term prospects for world agricultural production and food consumption on hold.

Governments must develop balanced policies that respond to immediate challenges, such as the job shortage, and that create lasting conditions for the agricultural sector to “get back on a better footing,” according to a new report released today by Angel Gurría. , Secretary-General of the OECD , and Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

This joint report shows, " OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2020-2029 ", that growth in supply will outpace growth in demand over the next decade, under which real prices for most products will remain at their current level or fall. Fluctuations in the factors that determine supply and demand could cause large price variations despite this general pattern. At the same time, a decrease in disposable income in low-income countries and households, attributable to COVID-19, is expected to weigh on demand in the first years of the study period and could further damage food security.

The increase in the world population remains the main factor of growth in demand, even if consumption patterns and projected trends vary from one country to another according to their level of income and development. Projected average per capita food availability will reach around 3,000 kcal and 85g protein per day in 2029. As consumption of animal products, fats and other foods continues to gain On the world stage, the share of basic foods in the food basket should contract by 2029 in all income categories. In particular, consumers in middle-income countries should use their extra income to substitute more popular products for basic foods. However, in high-income countries, environmental and health concerns are likely to favor a transition from animal sources of protein to other sources.

Open and transparent international markets will be increasingly necessary for food security, especially in countries where imports account for a large part of the total calories and protein consumed. " A predictable and well-functioning international trading system can help ensure global food security and allow producers in exporting countries to thrive, " said Gurría. " Experience shows that trade restrictions are not conducive to food security ."

" We need better policies, more innovation, more investment and more inclusiveness to build a dynamic, productive and resilient agricultural and food sector," said Qu.

About 85% of the increase in world crop production is expected to come in the next decade from higher yields resulting from increased use of inputs, investment in production technologies and improved farming practices. Ten percent will be due to the multiplication of harvests in the year and only 5% to the enlargement of the surfaces. By 2024, aquaculture is expected to capture the world's top source of fish and seafood for the fishery. Global animal production is projected to grow 14%, faster than the number of animals. The consumption of animal feed will increase in line with the production of livestock, including aquaculture, the improvement in feed efficiency being offset by an intensification of feed use linked to the decline in small Agriculture.

Given the uncertainties, the Outlook highlights the need to continue investing in productive, resilient and sustainable food systems. Beyond COVID-19, the invasion of locusts in East Africa and Asia, the continuation of the African swine fever epizootic, the increase in the frequency of extreme weather events and trade tensions between great trading powers are among the current difficulties. The food system will also have to adapt to changing eating habits and consumer preferences, and take advantage of digital innovations in agrifood supply chains. Innovation will remain decisive in improving its resilience, faced with multiple obstacles.

Assuming that current policies and technologies will remain unchanged, it is projected that greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector will increase by 0.5% per year, which amounts to a decrease in its carbon intensity. Livestock will account for 80% of this increase. In any event, without additional efforts, the slowdown will not match what agriculture could and should do to help achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement to fight change climatic.

The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2020-2029 provides evidence for policy makers to help them build the resilience of the world food system to meet long-term challenges food security, climate change, rural livelihoods and the use of the planet's resources. The fruit of collaboration between the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), they are supported by experts from their member countries and commodity commodity organizations. They present a consensual analysis of what could be the evolution, over the next ten years, of the agricultural and fish markets at national, regional and global levels.

The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2020-2029 can be viewed online for free on the OECD iLibrary and on the FAO website: http://www.fao.org/publications/oecd-fao-agricultural- outlook / 2020-2029 / in / . You will also find other documents at www.agri-outlook.org and can download the raw data there.

For further information, journalists can contact Lawrence Speer , Head of Media Relations (+33 1 4524 7970), OECD Public Relations and Media Division (+33 1 45 24 97 00) or Marcio Alonso or Peter Mayer at the FAO Press Service (+39 06 570 53625).