The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges

The present study, which was undertaken for the quadrennial review of FAO’s Strategic Framework and preparation of the Organization’s Medium-Term Plan, 2018–21, lays out key global trends and challenges that will influence food and agriculture in the coming decades.

The trends and challenges analysed here are cause for both hope and concern. Much progress has been made in reducing hunger and poverty and improving food security and nutrition. Gains in productivity and technological advances have contributed to more efficient resource use and improved food safety. But major concerns persist. Some 795 million people still suffer from hunger, and more than two billion from micronutrient deficiencies or forms of overnourishment. In addition, global food security could be in jeopardy, due to mounting pressures on natural resources and to climate change, both of which threaten the sustainability of food systems at large. Planetary boundaries may well be surpassed, if current trends continue.

Our assessment of prevailing trends suggests, therefore, that in order to realize FAO’s vision, transformative change in agriculture and food systems are required worldwide. In FAO’s view, there are 10 key challenges that need to be addressed if we are to succeed in eradicating hunger and poverty, while making agriculture and food systems sustainable. Those challenges include the uneven demographic expansion that will take place in the coming decades, the threats posed by climate change, the intensification of natural disasters and upsurges in transboundary pests and diseases, and the need to adjust to major changes taking place in global food systems.

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