Markets and Trade

Global agricultural supply chains, deforestation and responsible sourcing

Growing demand for food, coupled with reduced trade barriers and increasing agricultural production are contributing to the growth of global trade and agricultural supply chains. Today, an estimated one‐third of agri-food exports are traded within global supply chains (FAO, 2022).While this has supported economic growth and development, meeting and facilitating global demand for commodities is also impacting our forests. Since 1990, an estimated 420 million hectares of forests have been lost through deforestation (FAO, 2020), where nearly 90% of this global deforestation has taken place as a result of agricultural expansion into forest areas (FAO, 2021). While afforestation and reforestation have supported forest recovery in some parts of the world, the loss of forests, particularly natural forest, is high in tropical areas (FAO, 2020). This is a large concern owing to the important role that tropical forests play in supporting an estimated two-thirds of the world’s biodiversity, in addition to regulating climate and providing various other ecosystem services. While deforestation takes place upstream in supply chains, both upstream and downstream businesses and suppliers in the agri-food sector play a critical role in ensuring that the risk of deforestation is minimised when sourcing in agricultural supply chains. 

As part of its programme on Global Value Chains and the OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains, FAO works with governments, businesses and other stakeholders in agri-food supply chains to bring leadership, technical expertise and awareness concerning global sourcing and development impacts related to business and trade. On agricultural supply chains and deforestation, FAO’s Markets and Trade Division works in cooperation with its Forestry Division, leveraging expertise on global trade, business and supply chains with expertise on sustainable forest management.