The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization last week released its 2013 edition of the Statistical Yearbook, detailing major trends shaping global food and agriculture today.
Key topics in the Yearbook include capital and investment; climate change; food availability; food production and trade; food prices; hunger and malnutrition; the consequences of political instability; and natural- and human-induced disasters on food security.
The report showed that following a decade of slower growth in the 1990s, global public spending on agricultural R&D increased steadily from $26.1 billion in 2000 to $31.7 billion in 2008. Though most of the increase was spearheaded by developing countries, Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Nigeria and the Russian Federation also increased spending.
Commodity prices have also fared well, in spite of global economic instability. In 2010, agricultural value-added at the world level rose by 4%, in contrast to a 1 percent increase in overall GDP, the report found.
Crop production has expanded through higher yields and intensification, the report explains. In turn, the per capita food supply rose from about 2,200 kcal per day in the 1960s to 2,800 kcal per day by 2009.
Though agriculture is experiencing growth, cereals remain the largest source of food for human consumption, either directly or through animal feed and processing. Additionally, many countries remain underdeveloped.
The report finds that nearly 870 million people – 12.56% of the world's population – were undernourished in 2010-2012, and stunting rates continue to exceed 40% in Africa and South East Asia. Sixteen African countries showed underweight rates of at least 20%.
FAO's report noted that greenhouse gas emissions are also on the rise. From agriculture, emissions grew by 1.6% per year during the decade after the year 2000. FAO said the emissions equal 10% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
Download the 2013 yearbook data here.