Insufficient Growth in food production

Himanshu Shekhar

The world population is growing rapidly but the same is not true with the global food production. According to a recent report of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the global agriculture output is likely to grow more slowly over the next decade than in the past 10 years. But, nevertheless it remains on track with previous estimates to meet the demand, which is likely to grow by 70 percent by 2050. The rise in demand and slow growth in production would result in price rise.

This report says, ‘Farm commodity prices have fallen from their record peaks of last two years but unlikely to drop back to their average levels of past decade.’ Indian consumers are facing this huge problem for last two years. Renowned economist Kamal Nayan Kabra said, ‘It is evident in India that once the price of any essentials peaks up, it never comes back to previous level. There might be some correction in prices but that never gives any kind of relief to a common man.’ It has been said in the report that in the year 2009-10 global food prices came down but inflation levels of a number of countries are far away from the levels of 2007-08. It is important to mention that 2008 was the year of Global Food Crisis and in which underdeveloped nations and growing economies were worst affected.

This situation intensified the problem of hunger and malnutrition all over the world. This report adds, ‘Although the world produces enough to feed its population but recent price spike and the economic crisis have contributed to a rise in hunger and food insecurity.’ The Global Hunger Index is making the picture clearer. According to its estimates, about 800 million people are struggling from the problem of hunger. Another FAO estimate tells a more worrying story. According to its estimates the number of those people who are facing the problem of hunger all over the globe surged to 1,040 million in 2009-10. It is almost a 25 percent increase in just one year. Some analysts see price rise as the main cause of this unwanted and horrifying situation.

According to this report, ‘Average wheat and coarse grain prices over the next 10 years can be between 15-40 percent higher in real terms than their average levels during the 1997-2006 period. Real prices for vegetable oils are expected to be more than 40 percent higher. Dairy prices are projected to be on average between 16-45 percent higher.’ It means, common man will have to face more pain at the front of food prices.

Showing the way of solution this report suggests, ‘Agriculture production and productivity will need to be stepped up, while a well functioning, rule based trading system will be crucial to fair competition and to ensure that food can move for surplus area to deficit production area.’ But, analysts are not expecting any appropriate step by the government because these suggestions are not new but the government didn’t take those steps, which was needed and country is still facing the problem of hunger, malnutrition and price rise.

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