FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

OCDE-FAO: Latin America and the Caribbean could eradicate hunger by 2025

The region as an aggregate is moving towards self-sufficiency for all agricultural goods, says the Agricultural Outlook 2016‑2025.

Soybean cultivation is projected to drive most of the estimated 24 percent increase in crop area over the next 10 years.

5th of July 2016, Santiago, Chile -  Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole could end hunger by 2025, according to the OECD‑FAO Agricultural Outlook 2016‑2025 report published earlier this week.

The report states that under a “status quo” scenario in which policies remain unchanged and agricultural productivity growth continues on trend, the global population of undernourished should fall from 11% to 8% over ten years, with Latin America as a whole dipping under the 5% threshold at which the FAO considers hunger to be effectively eradicated.

The OECD-FAO projections coincide fully with the region’s stated goal of ending hunger by 2025, a commitment backed by the region’s main political integration body, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

“This region was the first to commit to not only halve but fully eradicate hunger”, said FAO’s Regional Representative, Raúl Benítez.

Benitez said that the fruits of this early resolve allowed the region to make the greatest progress in terms of food security, reaching both international hunger reduction targets: the Millennium Development Goal and the World Food Summit.

The main roadmap that the region has agreed upon to fully end hunger by 2025 is CELAC’s Plan for Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger Eradication, currently being implemented by all countries in the region.

“Not only have we become a mayor agricultural player, but what is even more important is that countries have created a host of innovative public policies that target the hungry, backed by local, national and regional hunger eradication strategies”, Benitez said.

By placing focus on the most vulnerable populations, Latin America and the Caribbean has managed to lift more than 31 million people from hunger in the past decades, bringing the current percentage of undernourishment to just 5.5%.

According to baseline analysis made in the Outlook, under the “business as usual” scenario the global number of undernourished people in the world would fall from around 800 million now to under 650 million in 2025.

In contrast with the regional situation, this implies that without decisive steps hunger would not be eradicated by 2030 – the global target recently adopted by the international community through the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.

Regional agricultural outlook 2016-2025

According to the OCDE-FAO report, in Latin America, soybean cultivation is projected to drive most of the estimated 24 percent increase in crop area over the next 10 years.

As a consequence of the expanding livestock sector, maize utilization for feed use will increase by 30% over the next decade. Maize and wheat per capita consumption are expected to stagnate over the projection period to a level of 54 kg per person per year.

Latin America has the highest per capita meat consumption of 58 kg/person/year and will continue to grow faster than the global average at 6% over the coming decade.

Beef and poultry account for almost 85% of total meat consumption. Nonetheless, beef consumption is declining in per capita terms whereas poultry per capita consumption is projected to grow by an average of 10% to 27 Mt by 2025.

Sugar and vegetable oil per capita consumption will continue to grow. Latin America holds the highest per capita sugar consumption and will reach 45 kg/person/year by 2025, almost double the global average (25 kg/year).

“This fact emphasizes the rising rate of obesity and overweight. The region has made great efforts to eradicate hunger, but still faces malnutrition problems”, Benitez explained.

Contrary to the global trend, Latin American area expansion remains an important driver in crop production growth. Total area under crop production is expected to increase by 22.5 million hectares (24%) by 2025, of which Brazilian soybean expansion contributes 11 million hectares accounting for almost 50%. Besides soybeans, maize and sugarcane will continue being major crops.

Regional meat production will increase by 11Mt by 2025, which accounts for nearly 25% of global meat production growth. The sector will profit from low feed grain prices in a region where feed grains are used more intensively than in other developing regions. Poultry is the meat of choice for developing countries and particularly in Latin America, where the production is expected to increase more than 6 Mt by 2025.

A major global food supplier

The region has established itself as a major global food supplier in the past decade and this trend is projected to continue over the outlook period.

Maize, soybeans and sugar comprise the bulk of total exports from the region. Only sugar shows a higher growth rate over the outlook than in the previous decade, this is partly explained by the rising domestic maize and soybean meal feed demand.

As for imports, some Latin American countries are net importers of pork, rice and particularly wheat. Intra-regional trade plays an important role in supplying these shortfalls. That being said, the region as an aggregate is moving towards self-sufficiency for all the agricultural goods.

Brazil is the second largest supplier of Chinese imports and faces possible challenges due to the uncertainty regarding the Chinese growth rate. Some other countries such as Bolivia are strengthening their agricultural trade relations with China.