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Global Agriculture Production Must Increase 70% By 2050 And Adapt To Climate Change, FAO Report Says

Agriculture production worldwide needs to increase 70 percent by 2050 to meet global food demands, yet “billions of dollars in additional annual investment” are required to meet this goal and reduce the negative effects on the environment, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a report (.pdf) on Thursday, Reuters reports.

The report, released ahead of a food security and climate change conference which begins on Sunday in The Hague, said, “Financing is … urgent” (10/28).

It said: “‘Climate change will increase the overall investment requirements needed to achieve food security, but financing resources currently available are substantially insufficient’ and ‘climate financing — both existing and that under discussion — does not take explicit account of the specific requirements of developing country agriculture,’” according to an FAO press release. “The report cites World Bank estimates for the annual costs of climate change adaptation in developing world agriculture of $2.5-2.6 billion per year between 2010 and 2050, as well as the UNFCCC estimate for additional investment and financial flows needed in developing countries for mitigation in the agricultural sector of $14 billion annually by 2030,” according to the press release (10/28).

Alexander Mueller, FAO’s assistant director-general for agriculture, said, “Increasing agricultural production, reducing post-harvest losses, and improving food distribution channels in the developing world have always been major challenges,” the U.N. News Centre writes. “Climate change raises the bar significantly – a major transformation of agriculture is needed,” Mueller noted (10/28).

FAO recommended that private and public funds designated for food security and climate change “be combined to help agriculture make a much-needed transformation into a ‘climate-smart’ sector,” Reuters reports. Existing climate change funding programs often exclude agriculture, according to FAO (10/28).   

African Farmers Should Pursue Subsidies, AU Chairman Says

“Africa should stand up and fight for subsidies for poor farmers … the new partnership with the donor community should be based on strengthening the subsidies for African smallholder farmers, especially women,” Malawian President and African Union Chairman Bingu wa Mutharika said on Thursday at a meeting of African agriculture ministers, Reuters reports. According to the news service, the “World Bank and the IMF have opposed agricultural subsidies for poor African farmers because of the high costs associated with the initiative.”

“There is no way an African farmer can survive without subsidies … such subsidies would be directed towards the purchase of fertilisers, seeds, pesticides, tractors, and irrigation equipment, extension services and marketing,” he said. “Wa Mutharika said Africa currently spends almost $22 billion annually on importing food and exports food worth $14 billion. ‘Invariably, Africa is a net importer of food … The impact of all this is felt most by the 400 million people who live on less than $1 a day and who cannot afford to buy food to eat,’ he said” (10/28).

Wall Street Journal Examines Private Sector Investment In African Agriculture

“Mounting concern over security of food supplies is spurring a wave of private-sector investment in Africa that many hope will put it at the center of a green revolution,” the Wall Street Journal writes in a story exploring the expansion of private investment interest in African agriculture.

“To meet growing global food demand the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates an extra six million hectares need to be brought under cultivation every year for the next 30 years. With sub-Saharan Africa estimated to hold up to 60% of the world’s remaining uncultivated land suitable for farming, the region’s agriculture is starting to look an interesting investment. … Already investors are waking up to Africa’s potential. Forty-five private equity firms plan to invest $2 billion in the region’s agriculture in the next three to five years, according to figures from Informa Agra, and consultancy McKinsey estimates the continent’s agricultural output could treble from $280 billion a year today to $880 billion by 2030,” the newspaper writes. The article looks at how current investment approaches differ from previous ones (Henshaw, 10/29).