Few Important Findings from FAO’s Recent Publication

This article is based on FAO’s recent publication viz., World Food and Agriculture Statistical Pocketbook 2019 of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Rome. So I have highlighted the issues based on their publication.  I was in FAO Rome, to present my research paper as they selected me few years ago, so could  observe their function closely and feel that FAO has been doing commendable work in the field of agriculture and rural development.  

a)      As per the publication, the total number of people in the world is around 7.5 billion, indicating an increase of 100 percent since the early 1960s.  

b)      In many areas of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa young populations present high fertility. 

c)      At present about 45 percent of the global world population is classified as rural, based on ‘national definitions’. It clearly implies that urbanisation has been taking place rapidly. Of course, we know the pace of urbanisation is much faster in developed countries than developing countries.

d)     Another important finding is that as national income goes up, the share of agriculture in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decreases. And in the developed countries agriculture accounts for a smaller share of GDP.

e)      In India and China because of fast development of secondary and services sectors, share of agriculture in GDP has been scaling down.

f)       In the context of using chemical or mineral fertilizers in the world, the statistics reveal that in 2017 total use of nitrogen (N) was 109 Metric ton/Mt, 45 Mt phosphates (P2O5) and 38 Mt potash (K). It may be mentioned here that in comparison to 2002, this represented increases of 34 percent use of nitrogen (N)     , 40 percent increase of phosphates (P2O5) and 45 percent for potash (K).   

g)      In the world total agricultural use of fertilizers per hectare of cropland (arable land and permanent crops) also increased in 2017 and the data are 70 kg N/ha, 29 kg P2O5/ha and 24 kg K/ha.

h)      Hunger is now a great issue particularly in the developing countries. The data in this regard reveal the number of undernourished people (million) in 2015 in the world were 785 which scaled up to 821.6 million in 2018.

i)        Number of severely food insecure people in 2015 was 568.2 million against the backdrop in 2018 the same was 704.3 million, such a figure is unfortunate as instead of coming down the same has gone up.  In this context, it may be mentioned that as per the publication, hunger is traditionally measured by the prevalence of undernourishment, which is the inability to acquire enough food to meet dietary energy requirements.

j)        Top 20 countries with the highest number of undernourished during 2016 to 2018 were India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Philippines, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Madagascar, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan Vietnam Zimbabwe Mozambique and Sudan. Whereas a number of severely food insecure people by sub region (2018) wise are: Southern  Asia, Eastern Africa, Western Africa,  South America, South-eastern Asia, Western Asia, Southern Africa, Central America, Northern Africa and Eastern Asia.

  I feel these statistics will help the readers to get an idea about hunger and agricultural development in the different parts of the world. And also I suggest researchers can take up M.Phil. /Ph. D. studies selecting the topic like use of fertilizers, chemicals, hunger, poverty etc.  

Prof Shankar Chatterjee, Hyderabad

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