IFPRI’s 2011 Global Food Policy Report and the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012-2021

The first in a new annual series, the International Food Policy Research Institute’s 2011 Global Food Policy Report  looks at food policy over the previous year focusing on major developments, challenges and opportunities, and future actions. In 2011, food policy was on the international agenda with the G20 meeting to discuss food price volatility for the first time. Agriculture remained high priority on this agenda with emerging economies, global institutions, developed and developing country governments and international foundations maintaining their pledges to focus on agriculture and in some cases developing new plans for progress, such as the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture, Feed the Future and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. The famine in the Horn of Africa, biofuel policy changes, the agriculture, health and nutrition nexus, land policy and climate change were key topics for policymakers and were evident in the media.

This report discusses these themes at length and most importantly asks ‘what can we do better?’ thus contributing not only to research agendas and information sharing but hopefully shaping preventative actions and transformational policy change.

While the IFPRI Global Food Policy Report looks at the past, the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook for 2012-2021 looks to the future. This annual report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, provides market projections for biofuels, cereals, oilseeds, sugar, meats, dairy products and fish and seafood over this period, calculated through modelling of past data with underlying assumptions about future change. For example around population growth (expected to slow) and energy prices (expected to significantly increase) as well as macroeconomic factors, agricultural and trade policies, weather and long-term productivity trends.

The report predicts nominal prices for commodities will increase over the period and although real prices are predicted to remain flat or decline, they will be on average 10 to 30% above prices from the previous decade. Increasing per capita incomes and urbanisation are expected to have a significant impact on demand for processed foods and animal products as well as grains and oilseeds to feed livestock.

And yet production growth is expected to slow to 1.7% (down from 2%) due to growing resource constraints and higher costs for inputs. Indeed one of the key predictions is that agriculture is likely to become increasingly linked to energy markets, with higher oil prices impacting oil-related costs of production and demand for biofuels.  Production growth is likely to be higher in developing countries (1.9%) than in developed (1.2%) and, due to their potential to increase productivity, developing countries will play a massive and increasing role in global food production to feed the extra 680 million inhabitants by 2021.

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