ROME, 20 August 2002 -- Globally there will be enough food for a growing world population by the year 2030, but hundreds of millions of people in developing countries will remain hungry and many of the environmental problems caused by agriculture will remain serious, according to the summary report of "World agriculture: towards 2015/2030", a study launched by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Population growth will slow down and many people will be better fed. As a result, the growth in demand for food will be lower. The pressure emanating from agriculture on natural resources will continue to increase, but at a slower pace than in the past.

For many of the currently more than 1.1 billion people that are living in extreme poverty, economic growth based primarily on agriculture and on non-farm rural activities is essential to improve their livelihoods. The majority of the poor live in rural areas. Promoting agricultural growth in rural areas and giving rural people better access to land, water, credit, health and education, is essential to alleviate poverty and hunger.

International trade plays an important role in improving food security and further agricultural trade liberalization could boost incomes. FAO projects that the agricultural trade deficit of the developing countries will increase drastically over the period to 2030. The report calls for better access to OECD markets, the elimination of export subsidies and the reduction of tariffs, in particular on processed agricultural goods, in both developed and developing countries. In addition, where it is still the case, developing countries should stop to discriminate against their agriculture in national policy making.

The benefits of globalization in food and agriculture could outweigh the risks and costs. For example, globalization has generally led to progress in reducing poverty in Asia. "But it has also led to the rise of multinational food companies with the potential to disempower farmers in many countries. Developing countries need the legal and administrative framework to ward off the threats while reaping the benefits." Openess towards international markets, investments in infrastructure, the promotion of economic integration and limits on market concentration, could make globalization work for the benefit of the poor.

Please click here for the main findings of the study.