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Good News, Bad News on Food Prices and Production

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, from | Food prices have risen sharply in the past few years. The good news is that the rate of increase has slowed. The bad news is that prices will not go down anytime soon. Also, the rate of global agricultural production is slowing. But it needs to increase 60 percent over the next 40 years to feed a growing world population. These are some of the findings in the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012-2021. The OECD is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The FAO is the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva spoke at a news conference in Rome last month when the report was released. Mr. Da Silva said the world's poorest people will feel the greatest effects of higher prices.He said for millions of people living in extreme poverty, the meaning of higher food prices is clear. They might have to change their diets, often to ones with less nutritional value. In middle-income countries, people are gaining weight. They are eating fewer fruits and vegetables. And they are eating less nutritious, and cheaper, food.The report also shows that farmers in poorer countries will be leading efforts to feed an expected 9 billion people by 2050. The Outlook predicts that farmers in Latin America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa will drive agricultural production in the future. Angel Gurria is chief of the OECD. He says we can feed 9 billion people by 2050 without stretching things too far. But, he said, we have to organize ourselves better. Still, there are many problems. One-fourth of all agricultural land is damaged. Many countries face water shortages. And experts believe climate change is driving increasingly unusual weather.The report says farmers need to use more environmentally sustainable growing methods. At the same time, it says governments should end economically harmful supports and invest more in agricultural production. Mr. Gurria says rich and poor nations need to treat agriculture more like a business.That also means reducing waste. The FAO and the OECD estimate that about one-third of world food production is lost. This is either because of poor growing and harvesting methods, or because people are throwing away good food.And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report. I'm Mario Ritter. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 17Jul2012)
Length: 03:59


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