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Topic: Measurement / Assessment

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HLPE - High Level Panel of Experts Reports

On this page you can access al reports prepared by the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

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Price volatility 
and food security

2011
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Land tenure and international investments in agriculture 2011
Process and docs

Food security 
and climate change
2012

Process and docs

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Social protection 
for food security
2012

Process and docs
Web annex

Biofuels 
and food security

Process and docs

Investing in smallholder agriculture for
food security

Process and docs

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Sustainable
fisheries and aquaculture for
food security and nutrition

Food losses
and waste in the
context of
sustainable food systems 

 

 

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Meat Atlas - Facts and figures about the animals we eat

 
This publication sheds light on the impacts of meat and dairy production, and aims to catalyse the debate over the need for better, safer and more sustainable food and farming.

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Impacts of foreign agricultural investment in developing countries: evidence from case studies

by Pascal Liu, Senior Economist, Trade and Markets Division, FAO.  
 
Although there has been much debate about the potential benefits and risks of international investment, there is a lack of systematic evidence on the actual impacts on the host country and their determinants. This paper summarizes the results of FAO’s case studies on foreign investment in developing country agriculture.

FAO’s studies on foreign investment in developing country agriculture suggest that the disadvantages of large-scale land acquisitions often outweigh the few benefits to the local community. In countries where local land rights are not clearly defined and governance is weak, large scale land acquisition raises particularly high risks for the local community.  Even from the perspective of the investor, land acquisition is unlikely to be the most profitable business model due to the high potential for conflict and damage to reputation.

Conversely, the studies suggest that investments that involve local farmers as equal business partners, giving them an active role and leaving them in control of their land, have the most positive and sustainable effects on local economies and social development. These inclusive business models need strong external support for supporting farmers and facilitating the investor-farmers relationship in order to succeed. They also require ‘patient capital’, as financial returns to investment are unlikely to materialize in the first years.

Beside the business model, other important factors include the legal and institutional framework in the host country, the terms and conditions of the investment contract and the social and economic condition in the investment area. Strengthening the governance and capacity of institutions in host developing countries is essential to enhancing the developmental impacts of foreign agricultural investment.

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What do we really know about the number and distribution of farms and family farms in the world?

The agricultural economics literature provides various estimates of the number of farms and small  farms in the world. This paper is an effort to provide a more complete and up to date as well as  carefully documented estimate of the total number of farms in the world, as well as by region and  level of income.

It uses data from numerous rounds of the World Census of Agriculture, the only  dataset available which allows the user to gain a complete picture of the total number of farms  globally and at the country level. The paper provides estimates of the number of family farms, the  number of farms by size as well as the distribution of farmland by farm size.

These estimates find that:  there are at least 570 million farms worldwide, of which more than 500 million can be considered  family farms. Most of the world’s farms are very small, with more than 475 million farms being less  than 2 hectares in size. Although the vast majority of the world’s farms are smaller than 2 hectares,  they operate only a small share of the world’s farmland. Farmland distribution would seem quite  unequal at the global level, but it is less so in low- and lower-middle-income countries as well as in  some regional groups.

These estimates have serious limitations and the collection of more up-to-date  agricultural census data, including data on farmland distribution is essential to our having a more representative picture of the number of farms, the number of family farms and farm size as well as farmland distribution worldwide.