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Agriculture

Global food prices rise due to slow agricultural growth

Two international agencies have warned that current agricultural growth rates are too low to prevent food prices from rising further in the medium and long term. They urged the sector to invest more in innovation.

Increasing global food demand was likely to push up prices 10 to 40 percent over the coming decade, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said in a joint report Thursday.

The study noted that governments needed to find ways to give farmers access to technology to increase output and get more of their crops to market.

"We're observing slower growth in production and productivity, and that is a concern," FAO economist Merritt Cluff told reporters. The director of the OECD's Trade and Agriculture Division, Ken Ash, added that the cost of meat would rise faster than that of grains.

More needed to feed the world

"We would urge governments around the world to begin to shift and to shift quickly from old-style policies to a greater focus on innovation," said Ash.

The report emphasized that higher prices would have the biggest impact in developing nations, where some families were forced to spend up to 60 percent of their incomes on food. Annual production growth in the sector was forecast to slow to 1.5 percent annually over the next decade, compared with the past decade's 2.1 percent.

Food consumption in developing countries has grown by around 30 percent annually over the past 10 years as incomes have kept rising, while consumption in industrialized nations has changed little.

hg/slk (dpa, AP)