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The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-04 has a new look and a new format that we hope you find attractive, informative and stimulating. Beginning with this issue, the report focuses on one important theme in agricultural and economic development each year, providing an in-depth analysis of its socio-economic implications and exploring policy options better to meet the needs of poor people in developing countries. We expect these thematic reports to make a significant contribution to the global debate on agricultural and economic development among policy-makers, the research community, development professionals and civil society. The theme this year is “Agricultural biotechnology: meeting the needs of the poor?” In subsequent issues, it is planned to address international trade, domestic agricultural markets and related global issues that influence the livelihoods and food security of the poor.

This new edition of The State of Food and Agriculture continues our tradition of providing a succinct overview of the current food and agriculture situation at the world and regional levels, including the latest estimates of the number of undernourished people; commodity production, trade and price trends; and agricultural investment, support and external assistance. The print version of this world and regional overview is supplemented periodically throughout the year with more comprehensive and timely regional reports. These regional reports can be accessed from our Web site at In addition, we introduce a new series of national agricultural and food security indicators with this year's report. These indicators will evolve over the coming years to provide a tool for monitoring the state of food and agriculture across countries and over time.

The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-04 is the first to be produced under a new management team comprising Prabhu Pingali, Director of the Agricultural and Development Economics Division (ESA), Randy Stringer, Chief of the Comparative Agricultural Development Service, and Terri Raney, Editor and Senior Economist for The State of Food and Agriculture. The Director-General of FAO, Jacques Diouf, and the Assistant Director-General of the Economic and Social Department, Hartwig de Haen, were instrumental in this effort to revitalize the report. The team is also grateful for the advice and support provided by the report's External Advisory Board: Walter P. Falcon (Chair United States), Bina Agarwal (India), Kym Anderson (Australia), Simeon Ehui (Côte d'Ivoire), Franz Heidhues (Germany) and Eugenia Muchnik (Chile).

The State of Food and Agriculture team is particularly keen to hear your reactions to this report and your suggestions for future issues. We look forward to hearing from you at [email protected].

Terri Raney
The State of Food and Agriculture

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