News / Economy

FAO: 'Revolution' in Agriculture Vital to Meet Food Targets

Farmers dump a pile of rice on the ground during a rally, outside a Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives in Bangkok, March 11, 2014.
Farmers dump a pile of rice on the ground during a rally, outside a Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives in Bangkok, March 11, 2014.
Ron Corben
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] says the world needs to boost agriculture production by 60 percent to meet its estimated food needs over the coming decades. The FAO says declining amounts of arable land and fresh water resources, however, create challenges.
The FAO says improving food security levels by 2050 may require a second "Green Revolution" to boost agricultural yields and feed the world’s expected nine billion people.
The so-called "Green Revolution" of the 1960s came with the introduction of industrial farming practices and high-yielding plant varieties, which helped farmers stay ahead of fast-growing populations.

Targeting devloping countries

Since then in Asia and the Pacific, food production has risen by 300 percent, although it has come at an environmental cost.
Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO assistant director general and Asia Pacific regional representative, said the challenge of lifting food production further will be especially acute for developing countries.
"We estimate that by 2050 the world needs to increase food production by 60 percent that will meet the demand at that time," said Konuma. "This is worldwide. But when we look at only developing countries, we estimate a 77 percent increase is needed -- it's a more important fear because 98 percent of worldwide population increase will be happening in developing countries."
Konuma said access to arable land is a key problem. In the Asia Pacific, most land is already fully exploited, while in regions such as China, land for agriculture is already on the decline. Also, regional and global water resources are declining amid signs of increasing water scarcity.
But Konuma is optimistic the food production target could be reached given the gains made in the Asia Pacific since the 1960s.
"The FAO estimates theoretically we can meet this food production by increasing yield per acre [hectare], productivity growth, by agriculture research. Rice and wheat alone there are still yield gap that can be narrowed from the potential. We are now looking at only 60 percent in a 40-year time frame to 2050," said Konuma.
Agriculture production

At the same time climate change is already affecting agricultural production in landlocked Asian nations and rising sea levels for Pacific island states.
The most vulnerable land locked nations are Afghanistan, Bhutan, Laos, Mongolia and Nepal. Among the 15 island states at risk, the Maldives in the Indian Ocean was the most susceptible to climate change.
The FAO says 840 million people globally, or one person in eight, still suffer from chronic hunger. More than 30 percent, or more than two billion people, suffer from other nutrient deficiencies.
FAO's Konuma said the poor are especially vulnerable.

"It's not really a matter of production or supply sides - it's access issues - poor people in particular, and those who are disadvantaged living at the bottom of society," he said. "They do not have enough access to purchase food that they need or even farmers who do not have enough land to grow food for their own consumption."
At the same time, some 1.5 billion people globally are seen as overweight, with 500 million individuals suffering from obesity, and more than 40 million children under the age of five years faced with weight problems. Changing dietary habits has also led to a rise in chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancers.   
FAO officials say a massive effort is required to end hunger in the Asia and Pacific, despite gains in nations such as Thailand, Vietnam and China.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies


Rates may not be current.