JEDDAH – The combined region of Africa and the Middle East is projected to have some of the strongest growth in food demand and agricultural trade over the coming decade, the “USDA Agricultural Projections to 2021” reported recently.
Both poultry and beef imports have their largest projected increases in this region, it added.
By the end of the projection period, Africa and the Middle East are projected to account for about half of poultry imports and 22 percent of beef imports by the major importers of the world.
Strong policy support for domestically produced meat also motivates growth in feed grain and protein meal imports, especially where land constraints or agroclimatic conditions limit an expansion of domestic crop production.
As a result, the region accounts for about 23 percent of the projected growth in world coarse grain imports over the next 10 years. Strong import growth by Africa and the Middle East over the projection period also accounts for 48 percent of the increase in global wheat imports, 47 percent of the growth in rice imports, and 39 percent of the rise in soybean oil trade.
In the coming decade, the growth in global grain trade comes from a broad range of countries, but particularly from countries in Africa and the Middle East, the report further said.
Increasing demand for wheat, coarse grains, oilseeds, and other crops provide incentives to expand global cultivated area and the intensity of cultivation. Higher prices for vegetable oils, as a result of increased demand for food use, biodiesel production, and other industrial uses, are bringing previously uncultivated land in Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, and Malaysia into soybean and palm oil production. Globally, the area planted to total grains, oilseeds, and cotton is projected to expand about 0.75 percent per year.
Global trade in soybeans and soybean products has risen rapidly since the early 1990s, and has surpassed global trade in wheat - the traditional leader in agricultural commodity trade – and in total coarse grains (corn, barley, sorghum, rye, oats, millet, and mixed grains).
Continued strong growth in global demand for vegetable oil and protein meal, particularly in China and other Asian countries, is expected to maintain soybean and soybean-product trade well above wheat and coarse grains trade throughout the next decade.
In most countries, the projected growth in total harvested area of all crops rises by less than 0.5 percent per year. Area expands more rapidly in countries with a reserve of available land and policies allow farmers to respond to higher prices. Such countries include Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, Argentina, and some other countries in South America and Eastern Europe.
About two-thirds of the projected growth in global production is derived from rising yields, even though growth in crop yields is projected to slow.
The market impact of slower yield growth is partially offset by slower growth in world population. Nonetheless, population growth is a significant factor driving overall growth in demand for agricultural products. Additionally, rising per capita income in many countries supplements population gains in the demand for vegetable oils, meats, horticultural products, and coarse grains. World per capita use of vegetable oils is projected to rise 15 percent over the next 10 years, compared with 6 percent for meat and for total coarse grains. Per capita use is projected to decline about 1 percent for wheat and rice.
World agricultural production rises in response to high prices and technology enhancements. However, a number of factors are expected to slow the rate of production growth. Many countries have a limited ability to expand planted area, and the expansion that does occur takes place on land with lower productive capacity.
The growth rate in world-average crop yields has been slowing for nearly two decades, to some extent as a result of reduced research and development funding. Water constraints in some countries are impeding the expansion in irrigation. Where irrigation water is pumped from deep wells, the energy cost of pumping is projected to continue to increase.
Costs of other production inputs such as fertilizers and chemicals are also likely to increase. Traditional exporters of a wide range of agricultural products, such as Argentina, Australia, Canada, the European Union (EU), and the United States, remain important in global trade in the coming decade. But countries that have made significant investments in their agricultural sectors and increasingly pursuing policies intended to encourage agricultural production, including Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, are expected to have an increasing presence in export markets for basic agricultural commodities. – SG/QJM