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Overview

Healthy, sustainable and inclusive food systems are critical to achieve the world’s development goals. Agricultural development is one of the most powerful tools to end extreme poverty, boost shared prosperity, and feed a projected 9.7 billion people by 2050. Growth in the agriculture sector is two to four times more effective in raising incomes among the poorest compared to other sectors. Analyses in 2016 found that 65% of poor working adults made a living through agriculture.

Agriculture is also crucial to economic growth: in 2018, it accounted for 4% of global gross domestic product (GDP) and in some least developing countries, it can account for more than 25% of GDP.

But agriculture-driven growth, poverty reduction, and food security are at risk: Multiple shocks – from COVID-19 related disruptions to extreme weather, pests and conflicts – are impacting food systems, resulting in higher food prices and growing hunger.

Accelerating climate change could further cut crop yields, especially in the world’s most food-insecure regions. Agriculture, forestry, and land use change are responsible for about 25% of greenhouse gas emissions. Mitigation in the agriculture sector is part of the solution to climate change.

Current food systems also threaten the health of people and the planet and generate unsustainable levels of pollution and waste. 

One third of food produced globally is either lost or wasted. Addressing food loss and waste is critical to improving food and nutrition security, as well as helping to meet climate goals and reduce stress on the environment.

Risks associated with poor diets are also the leading cause of death worldwide. Millions of people are either not eating enough or eating the wrong types of food, resulting in a double burden of malnutrition that can lead to illnesses and health crises. A 2021 report found that between 720 and 811 million people went hungry in 2020, more than 10% of the world's population.

Food insecurity can worsen diet quality and increase the risk of various forms of malnutrition, potentially leading to undernutrition as well as people being overweight and obese. An estimated 3 billion people in the world cannot afford a healthy diet.

The impact of the war in Ukraine adds risk to global food security, with food prices likely to remain high for the foreseeable future.

Last Updated: Apr 01, 2022

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Nugroho N. Sunjoyo