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close this bookA 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment: The Vision, Challenge, and Recommended Action (IFPRI, 1995, 56 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentInternational Advisory Committee
View the documentPreface
View the documentOverview
View the documentThe Vision
View the documentThe Challenge
View the documentRecommended Action
View the documentWhat if We Do Not Take Action?
View the documentRegional Strategies to Realize the 2020 Vision
View the documentAppendix
View the documentDonors to the 2020 Vision Initiative

The Challenge

Identifying, designing, and implementing actions to realize the 2020 Vision requires a solid understanding of the problems, challenges, and opportunities for change. Through 2020 Vision research and consultations, nine key sets of issues were identified that present challenges that must be overcome if the 2020 Vision is to be realized. These are

· Food security and nutrition;
· Poverty and economic growth;
· Human resource development;
· Food demand and diet changes;
· Population growth and movements;
· Food supply;
· Natural resources and agricultural inputs;
· Markets, infrastructure, and international trade; and
· Domestic resource mobilization and international assistance.

These issues do not form a hierarchy of priorities but rather are interlocking problems that must be addressed together.

For the 2020 Vision to be realized, enough food must be produced sustainably to meet the food needs of every person in the world, and everyone must have economic and physical access to sufficient food. Sustainable improvements in food security and nutrition are, therefore, the overall indicators of success in attaining the 2020 Vision.

Food security is jointly determined by access to food and availability of food. Access to food is closely related to poverty and economic growth: the poor usually do not have adequate means to gain access to food in the quantities needed for healthy, productive lives. Human resource development, including education and health, is essential to raise the productivity of poor people and improve their access to remunerative employment and productive resources.

Population growth and movements, including urbanization, migration, and involuntary displacement of people, greatly influence food security and nutrition by increasing and changing the demand for food, changing dependency ratios and family sizes, and changing access to productive resources. Population pressures, in combination with poverty and insecure property rights, contribute to overuse and misuse of natural resources.

Food demand and supply trends influence food prices, the purchasing power of both the urban and rural poor, composition of diets, and many other factors related to food security, nutrition, and sound management of natural resources. Whether food needs can be met depends on agricultural growth, not simply for producing food but also for generating employment and incomes for poor people within and outside agriculture.

Natural resources and agricultural inputs are critical determinants of food supply: degradation of natural resources - soils, forests, marine fisheries, water - undermines production capacity, while availability of and access to agricultural inputs such as water, fertilizers, pesticides, energy, expertise, and technology determine productivity and production levels. Appropriate policies and market incentives are essential for sound management of natural resources and agricultural inputs. Climate change is not expected to challenge global food production in the next 25 years, but human behavior during this time will influence the extent and effects of climate change well beyond 2020.

Food insecurity is likely to continue to diminish rapidly in East Asia, but without new and accelerated action, it could persist in South Asia and, to a lesser extent, in Latin America, and accelerate substantially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The efficient functioning of markets, especially agricultural input and output markets, supported by governments that have the capacity to perform their appropriate roles, is of critical importance for attaining the 2020 Vision. Infrastructure supports efficient market operations and allows physical access to food and other inputs. The increasing integration of developing countries into the global economy through international trade will benefit both developing and developed countries by expanding markets, creating jobs, and generating income, making the 2020 Vision attainable.

Finally, without increased domestic resource mobilization - savings and investment - developing countries will not be able to accelerate the investments in economic growth and human resources that underpin the 2020 Vision. International assistance has a critical role to play in supporting developing countries as they implement the actions required to attain the 2020 Vision and embark on broad-based economic development. In addition, partnerships between higher- and lower-income developing countries as well as between industrial and developing countries to promote sustainable economic growth will be essential.

The action needed to realize the 2020 Vision is not new, but it will require unprecedented joint efforts by individuals, households, farmers, local communities, civil society, the private sector, national and local governments, and the international community. It will require political will and commitment to change behavior, priorities, and policies. And it will require strengthened cooperation between industrial countries and developing countries as well as among developing countries. The key challenge to realizing the 2020 Vision is to overcome the lack of commitment and to develop the political will to eradicate poverty and hunger and to protect the natural resource base.

Food Security and Nutrition

About 800 million people - 20 percent of the developing world’s population - are food insecure in 1995: they lack economic and physical access to the food required to lead healthy and productive lives. Their numbers declined from 950 million in 1970 primarily because of a 50 percent reduction in the number of food-insecure people in East Asia. South Asia remains home to about 270 million hungry people, while Sub-Saharan Africa has emerged as a major locus of hunger: the number of hungry people in Africa has increased by 46 percent since 1970 to 175 million in 1995. Food insecurity is likely to continue to diminish rapidly in East Asia, but without new and accelerated action, it could persist in South Asia and, to a lesser extent, in Latin America, and accelerate substantially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Essentially, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa remain the “hot spots” of food insecurity.

Hunger is, and will remain, the primary challenge confronting developing countries.

Prospects for reducing malnutrition among the world’s children are grim. About 185 million children under the age of six years are seriously underweight for their age. Like food insecurity, child malnutrition is concentrated in South Asia and increasing rapidly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Female children are worse off than male children in South Asia. 2020 Vision research suggests that the proportion of malnourished children in the world could decline from 34 percent in 1990 to 26 percent in 2020. Because of population growth, however, the number of malnourished children would decline only slightly to 156 million by 2020. Reduction in child malnutrition is expected in all regions except Sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of malnourished children could increase by 50 percent between 1990 and 2020 to reach 43 million. In South Asia, the number of malnourished children may decline by more than 20 million over this period, but current malnutrition levels are so high that, even with these gains, two out of five preschool children are projected to be malnourished in 2020.

Hidden hunger, in the form of micronutrient deficiencies, is pervasive, even where food consumption is adequate. Micronutrient deficiencies have detrimental effects on human health and productivity. Nearly 2 billion people worldwide are iron deficient, resulting in anemia in 1.2 billion; more than half of the pregnant women in developing countries are anemic; 125 million preschool children suffer from vitamin A deficiency, which has caused clinically visible eye damage to 14 million of them; and more than 600 million people have iodine-deficiency disorders.

Malnutrition in children inhibits their growth, increases their risk of morbidity, affects their cognitive development, and reduces their subsequent school performance. Malnutrition during childhood negatively affects work capacity and labor productivity in adults. And mild to moderate malnutrition has far more powerful effects on child mortality than previously believed.

Hunger is, and will remain, the primary challenge confronting developing countries. However, 2020 Vision research finds a paradoxical nutrition-related trend of obesity emerging in some areas, particularly in urban areas. In China’s cities, for example, obesity is forecast to increase 15 percent by 2020. Rapid income growth and urbanization are associated with changes to diets that include more fatty foods, such as livestock products, and with shifts toward more sedentary occupations. Because obesity helps increase chronic diseases such as heart conditions, obesity is becoming a serious public health risk in some developing countries, as it is in many developed countries.

Poverty and Economic Growth

Over 1.1 billion people in the developing world - 30 percent of the population - live in absolute poverty, with incomes equivalent to a dollar a day or less per person. Every second person in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa is absolutely poor. Unless concerted action is taken, poverty will remain entrenched in South Asia and Latin America and will increase markedly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Only in East Asia is absolute poverty expected to decline substantially. More than 75 percent of the poor in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are rural people, obtaining livelihoods from agricultural activities or from nonfarm activities that depend mostly on agriculture. Even in highly urbanized Latin America, a large share of the poor are rural. Moreover, there are more women than men among the poor, and individuals in female-headed households are often poorer than those in male-headed households. This income inequality has serious implications for children’s nutrition and family food security since women are likely to spend a greater proportion of their incomes on food for the household and on their children’s health, nutrition, and education.

Income levels and rates of growth vary considerably among developing countries. In 1982, per capita incomes in low-income developing countries were 18 percent of those in middle-income developing countries and 3 percent of those in developed countries. Ten years later, in 1992, these figures had dropped to 16 and 2 percent, respectively, reflecting an increasing inequality. The gap between rich and poor is widening: the share of global incomes obtained by the poorest 20 percent of the world’s population decreased dramatically from 2.5 percent in 1960 to 1.3 percent in 1990.

While East Asia had spectacular annual growth rates in per capita incomes of 6 percent or more during the 1980s and early 1990s, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East have struggled with negative or negligible growth rates. Unless significant and fundamental changes occur in many developing countries, disparities in income levels and growth rates are likely to continue. 2020 Vision research projects that annual per capita income growth rates during 1990-2020 will range from 0.4 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa to 5.2 percent in East Asia. There is, however, considerable opportunity to accelerate income growth rates in the slow-growing countries, especially those of Sub-Saharan Africa, and to raise per capita incomes.

Human Resource Development

Poor, hungry, and illiterate people, and those suffering from chronic illnesses, have low productivity. Investments in health care and education - essential for raising productivity - and access to productive resources and remunerative employment are far below required levels, especially in rural areas of low-income developing countries. Investment in the health and education of women and girls is particularly low. As a result, many people are denied the skills, capacity, and opportunity to improve their lives and to participate fully in all aspects of the economy and in social and political processes. These people also represent an underused resource that could be available to foster accelerated economic growth for the benefit of both the poor and nonpoor.

2020 Vision research finds that rapid economic growth alone is unlikely to reduce dramatically the number of malnourished children.

2020 Vision research finds that rapid economic growth alone is unlikely to reduce dramatically the number of malnourished children. An increase in incomes is necessary but not sufficient to guarantee good nutrition. There is growing evidence that the control of income within the household matters: incomes controlled by women are associated with improved food security and nutrition. Furthermore, nonfood factors such as education, health care, child care, clean water, and sanitation are of critical importance in determining nutritional status and must be improved in tandem with incomes and empowerment of women.

Developing-country public expenditure on education as a percentage of gross national product (GNP) has doubled since 1960 to 4 percent. Enrollment in primary education has risen considerably in the developing world. However, drop-out rates are significant (about 30-35 percent drop out by Grade 4, a share that has not improved since 1970). While almost as many girls enroll in primary school as boys, they complete only about half as many years of schooling.

Public expenditure on health as a percentage of GNP in developing countries has doubled from 0.9 to 2.2 percent between 1960 and 1990. However, about 1 billion people in developing countries lack access to health services; not surprisingly, infant mortality rates are 10 times higher than in industrialized countries.

About 1.3 billion people, primarily in rural areas of developing countries, are consuming unsafe water. About two-thirds of the population in developing countries has access to safe water, compared with one-third in the late 1970s. Almost 2 billion people, including more than half of the rural population in developing countries, do not have access to adequate sanitation systems.

Food Demand and Diet Changes

The extent to which food needs will be converted into effective market demand will depend on the purchasing power of the poor. 2020 Vision research forecasts that global effective market demand for foodgrains will increase by 55 percent between 1990 and 2020 to 2.7 billion metric tons (hereinafter “tons”), for livestock products by 75 percent to 280 million tons, and for roots and tubers by 50 percent to 875 million tons. With population growth, per capita demand for foodgrains is projected to increase by less than 3 percent to 340 kilograms, for livestock products by 17 percent to 36 kilograms, and for roots and tubers by 1 percent to 112 kilograms.

Because of more rapid population and income growth, market demand for food-grains and livestock products is expected to grow much faster in developing countries than in developed countries. 2020 Vision research forecasts that average per capita demand for foodgrains in developing countries will grow 0.4 percent per year between 1990 and 2020 and demand for livestock products 1.5 percent. Between 1990 and 2020, developing countries are projected to increase their market demand for foodgrains by 75 percent to 1.7 billion tons and for livestock products by 155 percent to 110 million tons. Population growth leads to a significantly smaller increase in per capita demand during this period, 11 percent for foodgrains and 56 percent for meat. In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, the amount of food demanded per person is not projected to increase during this period, which is cause for serious concern because per capita food consumption in that region is already below the bare minimum required for healthy lives. Even though total market demand for food is growing faster in developing than developed countries, developing-country citizens are projected to demand only 40 percent of the foodgrains and 33 percent of livestock products that citizens in developed countries demand by 2020, although developing countries will account for more than 80 percent of the world’s population.

Around 90 million people - equivalent to Mexico’s population in 1990 - are likely to be added to the world’s population every year in the next quarter century, the largest annual population increase in history.

Urbanization and rising incomes are associated with more diverse diets: people are eating more livestock products and cutting back on cereals, and they are shifting to more processed foods. Asians are eating more livestock products and shifting from rice to wheat. Sub-Saharan Africans are moving from eating coarse grains and roots and tubers to wheat and rice. 2020 Vision research forecasts per capita demand for rice to grow at half the rate for wheat and maize. Much of the growth in global demand for meat is taking place in China. 2020 Vision research suggests that, if India makes a large shift from a cereal-based diet to an increasingly meat-based diet, world food prices will increase and per capita food demand in poorer Sub-Saharan African and South Asian countries will fall as a consequence.

Changes in dietary patterns place strong pressures on the livestock industry and, indirectly, on feedgrain production. Demand for feedgrain is growing rapidly in developing countries. However, continued declines in the amount of feed needed to produce each kilogram of livestock products, because of better technologies and a shift from ruminants to poultry, will slow the rate of increase in demand for feedgrains, thereby reducing pressures on grain production from what was previously expected.

Population Growth and Movements

Four critical current trends in demography will need to be addressed to realize the 2020 Vision: high population growth, rapid urbanization, changing age composition, and involuntary displacement of people.

Around 90 million people - equivalent to Mexico’s population in 1990 - are likely to be added to the world’s population every year in the next quarter century, the largest annual population increase in history. By 2020, world population is likely to approach 8 billion. More than 90 percent of the population increase will occur in developing countries, whose share of world population will exceed 80 percent. The absolute increase will be largest in Asia (1.5 billion), but the rate of growth will be most rapid in Africa, where the population will double to about 1.2 billion in 2020. From its peak of 2.1 percent in the late 1960s, the global population growth rate is expected to slow to 1.04 percent by 2015-2020. Africa’s projected population growth rate of 2.3 percent in 2015-2020 will be more than double the growth rates in other regions. If fertility rates in developing countries decline faster than expected, as has happened in a few African countries following increased support for poverty alleviation programs, reproductive health services, and education, especially for women, the population growth rate could decline at a faster rate. AIDS may also significantly reduce population growth rates by as much as half in some African countries by 2020. Should fertility rates not decline as expected, global population in 2020 could be higher than 8 billion.

Most of the population increase in developing countries between now and 2020 is expected in the cities. Rapid urbanization is expected to more than double the urban population in developing countries to 3.6 billion by 2020. By this time, urban dwellers will outnumber rural dwellers in all regions. This population pressure in urban areas will create enormous demand for services. Extreme poverty, insufficient economic growth, and lack of employment opportunities in rural areas and hopes of employment and access to social services in urban areas will drive rural dwellers to migrate to cities in many low-income developing countries at rates beyond those justified by urban employment opportunities.

As people live longer and population growth rates continue to fall, the share of elderly people in middle- to higher-income developing countries is growing while the share of children is falling. This shift in the age composition of the population will significantly influence the design of future policy interventions to alleviate poverty and food insecurity. In the low-income developing countries, however, a large proportion of the population will continue to be young for some time, suggesting that education and employment generation will continue to be major priorities.

A 10-fold increase in the number of international refugees since 1974 to around 23 million today, along with 26 million refugees displaced within their home countries, reflects severe social and economic hardship. These problems often spill over into other areas, affecting many more people. Unless the underlying causes of these massive involuntary displacements of people - breakdown of civil society and governments, oppression, extreme poverty, hunger, and environmental degradation - are removed, this trend will continue, with increasing human misery and disruptions of productive activities. More than 40 countries and tens of millions of people today are experiencing hunger or are severely vulnerable to hunger because of past or ongoing conflicts that have severely reduced food production and livelihood capacities and devastated natural resources. As the competition over scarce resources intensifies, many more people may come under the shadow of conflict, where food and water are often instruments for warfare and natural resources are often among the first casualties.

Food will have to be produced where it is most needed in developing countries, not simply to increase food supplies but also to generate incomes and employment through agricultural and resulting economic growth.

Food Supply

In the next 25 years, the world will be challenged to produce enough food to feed an additional 90 million people each year, as well as to meet increasing and changing food needs due to rising incomes and changing lifestyles. These needs will have to be met from more efficient use of land already under cultivation, as significant expansion of cultivated area is not an economically or environmentally sound option in most of the world. Food will have to be produced where it is most needed in developing countries, not simply to increase food supplies but also to generate incomes and employment through agricultural and resulting economic growth.

2020 Vision research suggests that the world is far from approaching bio-physical limits to global food production. Warning signs, however, suggest that growth in food production has begun to lag. Increases in food production did not keep pace with population growth in more than 50 developing countries in the 1980s and early 1990s. The rate of growth of global grain production dropped from 3 percent in the 1970s to 1.3 percent in the 1983-93 period, and the amount of grain produced per person has fallen in the past decade. Yields of rice and wheat have been constant during the last few years in Asia, a major producer. Production from marine fisheries has peaked at 100 million tons and is now in decline.

If investments in agricultural research and infrastructure are maintained, at least at the already reduced levels of the 1980s, the future aggregate global food supply picture is likely to be good. 2020 Vision research projects that world foodgrain production will grow on average by 1.5 percent per year between 1990 and 2020, a rate high enough to increase global per capita availability of food and to reduce real prices for most commodities. World livestock production is projected to grow by 1.9 percent a year. Aquaculture production, which doubled between 1984 and 1992, is forecast to increase at a slower rate between 1990 and 2020, while marine fish catches are likely to be no higher than current levels in 2020. Foodgrain production in developing countries is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 2 percent (compared with 1 percent in developed countries) and livestock production at 3.3 percent (compared with 0.8 percent in developed countries).

2020 Vision simulations suggest that, if national and international institutions further cut back on public investments in agricultural research, health, nutrition, and education, the relatively favorable aggregate food situation could significantly worsen, reversing long-term world food price declines and increasing the number of malnourished children. But if developing countries strengthen their investments in agricultural research, health, education, and clean water supplies; raise their income growth rates; and increase the enrollment of females in secondary schools, the number of malnourished children in developing countries could be substantially reduced and per capita market demand and supply of food significantly increased. A reduction in the population growth rate to the United Nations low-variant projection, so that the global population in 2020 is 7 billion instead of the anticipated 8 billion, would also significantly improve the food security situation.

Yield increases will have to be the source of most of the food production increases since cultivated area is likely to decline in many developed countries and only marginally increase in developing countries, except in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, where some expansion of area is still economically and technologically feasible. However, these yield increases depend on continued research and successful dissemination of technologies and techniques to farmers. A second Green Revolution will be more difficult to achieve than the first. Should public investment in agriculture, particularly in agricultural research, continue to decline, and should extension systems fail to support small-scale farmers as they venture to adopt improved technologies, the aggregate food situation could significantly worsen.

The relatively favorable global food supply picture is not good for all regions. South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are of special concern. The gap between production and market demand for cereals is forecast to widen from 1 million tons in 1990 to 24 million tons in 2020 in South Asia, and to triple to 27 million tons in 2020 in Sub-Saharan Africa. Unless poverty is significantly reduced, the gap between food production and need will be much larger. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular is unlikely to have the capacity to commercially import the difference between food needs and production. It is also unlikely that enough food aid will be available to bridge this gap. Food aid is likely to be increasingly scarce with the implementation of the Uruguay Round trade agreements, which will reduce domestic price support to agriculture and thus reduce surplus production in the industrial countries.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s food economy is unlikely to have much effect on the global food situation - its share of the global market demand for foodgrains will probably not exceed 6 percent in 2020. However, what happens in two regions - China and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union - will greatly influence the global food projections. Any dramatic changes in China’s food economy will reverberate around the globe. Structural changes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union will determine the pace at which that region shifts from being a major cereal importer to a major exporter.

The central challenges between now and 2020 are to develop the global capacity to produce adequate food in an environ-mentally sustainable manner and to increase the capacity of poorer countries to produce food, not simply to increase their food supply, but to generate incomes and employment through agricultural growth.

Natural Resources and Agricultural Inputs

Soils. Concerns are growing about the extent and rate of soil degradation in the world and its effects on agricultural productivity and preservation of natural resources, including biodiversity. In the past half-century, about 2 billion of the 8.7 billion hectares of agricultural land, permanent pastures, and forest and woodlands have been degraded. Of these, about 750 million hectares of mildly degraded land could be restored through good land husbandry measures, while another 900 million hectares of moderately degraded land could be restored through significant on-farm investments. Restoring the remaining 300 million hectares of severely degraded lands will be much more costly, involving major engineering investments. About 5 to 10 million hectares annually become unusable due to severe degradation.

Two-thirds of the world’s degraded lands are found in Asia and Africa, hut human-induced degradation is most severe in Africa, where 30 percent of the agricultural land, pastures, forests, and woodlands are degraded, followed by Asia (27 percent) and Latin America (18 percent).

Two-thirds of the world’s degraded lands are found in Asia and Africa, but human-induced degradation is most severe in Africa, where 30 percent of the agricultural land, pastures, forests, and woodlands are degraded, followed by Asia (27 percent) and Latin America (18 percent). Most of the degradation is taking place on agricultural and pasture lands, which are major sources of food, incomes, and employment for rural people in many developing countries. Soil degradation has affected 75 percent of agricultural lands in Central America and 65 percent in Africa, compared with 25 percent in Europe and North America. Most of the degradation is taking place in the “bread basket” areas (salinization), densely populated rainfed farming areas (nutrient depletion and erosion), and areas with important environmental roles (water erosion in upper watersheds).

Overgrazing, deforestation, and inappropriate agricultural practices account for most of the degradation. To a large extent, these problems result from or are exacerbated by inadequate property rights, poverty, population pressure, inappropriate government policies, and lack of access to markets, credit, and technologies appropriate for sustainable agricultural development. Crop productivity losses from degradation are significant and widespread in hilly areas, dryland cropping areas, rangelands, and irrigated areas. Unless nondegraded soils are protected and currently degraded soils are restored, increasing population and persisting poverty will hasten soil degradation between now and 2020.

2020 Vision consultations have identified “hot spots” of severe environmental deterioration by the year 2020. These areas include the Indus, Tigris, and Euphrates river basins, where continued salinization could threaten regional food security; the foothills of the Himalayas, where water erosion could exacerbate poverty and food insecurity; the highland areas of East Africa, where few ready sources of further productivity increases exist; the border zone between subhumid and semiarid areas in Africa, where migrations induced by dryland degradation could put additional pressure on the natural resource base; the forest margins of the lower Amazon, where overgrazing and nutrient loss are expected to worsen; and the periurban areas around Mexico City, where pollution from agricultural chemicals could worsen. Soil fertility is a particularly serious problem in Africa, where a lack of replenishment of nutrients is leading to rapid deterioration.

Forests. During the 1980s, about 0.8 percent - 15.4 million hectares - of tropical forests worldwide were converted to other uses every year. Latin America had the largest area of forest converted during that period - 7.4 million hectares every year - but other areas, with smaller forest endowments, had higher rates of forest conversion and carry heavier risks of completely losing their forest assets. Rates of forest conversion are most rapid in continental Southeast Asia and Central America and Mexico, averaging about 1.5 percent a year. Deforestation has important local and global consequences, ranging from increased soil and water degradation to greater food insecurity (especially among indigenous peoples who depend on forest products for food, fiber, medicines, or income), escalating carbon emissions, and loss of biodiversity.

Small-scale, poor farmers clearing land for agriculture to meet food needs accounted for roughly two-thirds of the deforestation in the 1980s. Such forest conversion, driven by food insecurity, will continue between now and 2020, particularly in Africa, unless farmers have alternative ways of meeting food needs. And these needs will accelerate with population growth in rural areas. Commercial logging interests account for much of the remaining deforestation, especially in East Asia and West Africa. Although there is no consensus on the amount or location of forest that this generation should bequeath to the next, there is evidence that the world’s forests are neither properly managed nor, when converted into other assets, sufficiently productive to allow future generations to meet their needs.

Marine Fisheries. The world’s fisheries are in crisis. Following a period of rapid expansion of harvesting from the oceans, more than a quarter of the 200 main marine fisheries worldwide are overexploited, depleted, or recovering, while another two-fifths are fully exploited. Fisheries are collapsing in some parts of the world, and international disputes over fish stocks are increasing. Resource management has failed to restrain fishers from exploiting natural fisheries beyond sustainable limits, leading to increasing conflicts as fish become more scarce. Even where access is restrained, most fisheries have too many fishers with legitimate access. 2020 Vision research projects that in 2020 fish catches will be, at best, no more than current levels, as losses from poor resource management and protection of some areas and species offset gains from better handling and exploitation of underused stocks. The challenge is to maintain the present levels of harvest from natural fisheries while sustainably increasing aquaculture production.

Virtually all developing countries, even those with adequate water in the aggregate, suffer from debilitating seasonal and regional shortages.

Water. Enough freshwater is available worldwide to meet needs for the foreseeable future if it were evenly distributed and appropriately used. But water is poorly distributed across countries, across regions within countries, and across seasons. Virtually all developing countries, even those with adequate water in the aggregate, suffer from debilitating seasonal and regional shortages. About 30 countries today are water stressed, with major problems in drought years. Of these, 20 are water scarce, with annual internal renewable water resources below the threshold required for socioeconomic development and environmental quality. By 2020, the number of water-scarce countries could approach 35. Competition for water is becoming more acute, increasing the potential for conflicts between sectors and water wars between countries.

2020 Vision research has identified several major water-related challenges to realizing the 2020 Vision. Development of new water resources has slowed since the late 1970s. New sources of water are increasingly expensive to exploit because of high construction costs for dams and reservoirs and concerns about environmental effects and displacement of people. Investment in irrigation projects has slowed, especially in Asia, even though increased production from irrigated lands is likely to be decisive in meeting future food needs. Efficiency of water use in agriculture, industry, and urban areas is generally low. Pressures to degrade land and water resources through waterlogging, salinization, and groundwater mining are mounting. Between 0.3 and 1.5 million hectares of land are lost each year worldwide from waterlogging and salinization. Pollution of water from industrial effluent, poorly treated sewage, and runoff of agricultural chemicals is a growing problem. Inadequate and unsafe domestic water supplies, compounded by inadequate or nonexistent sewage and sanitation systems, are a major cause of disease and death, particularly among children, in developing countries, Inappropriate policies, distorted incentives, and massive subsidies provide water at little or no cost to rural and urban users, encouraging overuse and misuse of water. Water for irrigation, the largest use, is essentially unpriced. The overarching challenge between now and 2020 is to treat water as the scarce resource it is.

Fertilizers. According to 2020 Vision research and consultations, the use of mineral fertilizers will have to be substantially increased in developing countries to meet food needs by 2020, although organic sources can and should supply a larger share of plant nutrients. Fertilizers also play a key role in enhancing the natural resource base. 2020 Vision research forecasts that between 1990 and 2020, global fertilizer demand will grow, on average, by 1.2 percent per year to 208 million tons in 2020, a significantly lower rate than the 2.8 percent rate in the 1980s. Average annual growth rates are projected to be about 1.8-2.4 percent in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Asia will account for more than half of the growth in global fertilizer use.

Depletion of soil nutrients is a critical constraint to food production in Sub-Saharan Africa. The projected growth in fertilizer use will be inadequate, given nutrient requirements for food production and for resource conservation. Fertilizer applications are low because of high prices (resulting from thin markets, lack of domestic production capacity, poor infrastructure, and inefficient marketing systems), insecure supplies, and the greater risks associated with food production in marginal areas.

Raw materials, capital investment, or technology do not appear to be critical constraints to future fertilizer production. Negative environmental and health consequences of fertilizer use and production must be avoided. In most developing countries, however, the problem is not excessive but insufficient fertilizer use. The major challenge is to promote a balanced and efficient use of plant nutrients from both organic and inorganic sources at farm and community levels to intensify agriculture in a sustainable manner.

Pesticides. Pre- and postharvest losses in potential crop production due to pests are very large in developing countries. However, past practices of pesticide use cannot be sustained. Since 1945, global pesticide use has increased 42-fold to about 2.5 million tons today. Concerns are multiplying in developed and developing countries that overuse or misuse of pesticides compromises human health; contaminates soils and water and damages ecosystems; suppresses species; and leads to pesticide resistance, pest resurgence, and evolution of secondary pests. Moreover, evidence shows that overuse of pesticides can lead to decreased food production: in Indonesia, introduction of an integrated pest management (IPM) program that combined biological controls and host-plant resistance with reduced use of chemical pesticides in the late 1980s was associated with an increase in rice yields. According to 2020 Vision consultations, it is clear that environmentally sound alternatives or methods of use must be developed and adopted. Available pest management means must be combined to achieve effective pest control with little or no negative environmental effects or health risks.

Energy. Agriculture consumes only 5 percent of global commercial energy. However, energy use in agriculture has significantly grown in recent decades because of increases in cropped and irrigated area; rising mechanization in irrigation, land preparation, and harvesting; and use of chemical fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers alone account for almost 70 percent of developing-country energy use in agriculture. Increasing agricultural production and agroprocessing in developing countries will call for substantial increases in use of commercial energy. Still, agriculture will continue to be a minor user of energy.

In most developing countries, however, the problem is not excessive but insufficient fertilizer use. The major challenge is to promote a balanced and efficient use of plant nutrients from both organic and inorganic sources at farm and community levels to intensify agriculture in a sustainable manner.

Research and Technology. All of the food needed in 2020 and beyond cannot be produced using existing technology and knowledge alone. Low-income developing countries are grossly underinvesting in agricultural research compared with industrialized countries, even though agriculture accounts for a much larger share of developing countries’ employment and incomes. Their public-sector expenditures on agricultural research are typically less than 0.5 percent of agricultural gross domestic product (GDP), compared with about 1 percent in higher-income developing countries and 2-5 percent in industrialized countries. Developing countries have far fewer agricultural researchers relative to the economically active population engaged in agriculture or to the agriculture acreage. Growth in public-sector expenditures on agricultural research in developing countries has slowed to 2.7 percent per year in the past decade, compared with 7.0 percent in the 1960s. Many developing countries are even reducing their support for agricultural research. This trend has been under way for several decades in Africa (agricultural research expenditures per scientist have fallen by about 2.6 percent per year since 1961) and is more recent in Latin America. Further reductions in public investment in agricultural research will have severe consequences for global food production by reducing yield growth: projected world food price declines will be reversed and the number of malnourished children will increase.

Climate Change. A trend toward global warming is evident, but it will not significantly affect global food production in the next 25 years. This does not imply, however, that considerations related to climate change should be set aside. Human behavior in the next quarter century - the carbon dioxide and fluorocarbons injected into the atmosphere, the forests burnt down, the pollution added to the atmosphere - will determine the extent, longevity, and effects of climate change. Foresight is essential: while the effects of climate change may not be felt immediately or for some years to come, once it is set in motion, climate change may take a very long time to be reversed.

Markets, Infrastructure, and International Trade

In recent years, many countries have embarked on market reforms to move away from state-controlled or parastatal organizations toward reliance on private firms operating in free markets. The need for such reforms is apparent in former centrally planned countries, but it is also evident in a number of mixed economies in the developing world. While clearly desirable, such reforms must be undertaken with care, taking into account the organizational structure of the affected markets. In some cases, inefficient para-statals are being replaced by oligopolistic or monopolistic private firms, with little or no gains to farmers and consumers. The ongoing and unprecedented transition from controlled to market economies and from patrimonial to open political systems has generated confusion about the appropriate role of government and weakened the capacity of governments to perform needed functions. “Free” markets are not necessarily the same as “competitive” markets, and government policy has an important role in ensuring the emergence of efficient, competitive markets as part of the reform process.

In many regions, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, food marketing costs are extremely high. Lowering these costs through investment in improved transportation infrastructure and marketing facilities (which also increase competition) may be as important in lowering food prices to consumers as increasing agricultural productivity. Many countries have made major improvements in recent years, but investments in infrastructure, especially transport and communication, are far below needed levels. Road, rail, port, and storage infrastructures are inadequate, while telecommunications, electricity, piped water, and sanitation systems reach only certain segments of society. Past investments have tended to favor urban areas. Investments in creating and maintaining basic infrastructure in African countries, in particular, lag behind investments in Asian and Latin American countries.

No country can insulate itself from the world economy: trade policy and development policy go hand-in-hand.

The rapid growth of world trade and increased integration of developing countries into the global economy since World War II have changed the nature of the development process. No country can insulate itself from the world economy: trade policy and development policy go hand-in-hand. The value of world exports grew, on average; by 11 percent per year between 1950 and 1990, much faster than world income. The share of developing countries in world trade rose to 26 percent in 1992-93, doubling in just over 20 years. Many developing countries have gained enormously from increased participation in world markets as world trade has become increasingly liberalized, largely through a series of major rounds of trade negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), including the recently completed Uruguay Round. There has also been a proliferation of regional trading arrangements, such as the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA), MERCOSUR in Latin America, and a proposed Asia-Pacific free trade area. All indications are that these trends will continue into the future.

The results of 2020 Vision research and other work indicate that increased regional integration and further global liberalization are good for most developing countries. World trade in agricultural goods will continue to increase, implying that developing countries should not seek food self-sufficiency but should pursue self-reliance through specialization and increased trade in agricultural and manufactured goods for which they have comparative advantage. 2020 Vision research also shows that developing countries benefit from regional trade arrangements that include one or more developed economies, but that they gain little from integration with other developing countries alone. For the low-income, food-importing countries, global trade liberalization and policy reform in agricultural subsidy policies in developed countries is a mixed blessing. They gain from increased access to developed-country markets, but they are less able to compete in those markets than other, better situated, developing countries. And they lose from higher food prices that may occur in the medium term with cutbacks in agricultural subsidies in the developed countries.

Domestic Resource Mobilization and International Assistance

The major source of aggregate investment in virtually all countries is domestic savings. For the low-income countries, the vicious circle of poverty still exists - low income leads to low savings, low investment, low growth, continued poverty, and continued low savings. Developing countries vary widely in their ability to mobilize savings and achieve high rates of investment. During the past 20 years, several countries in Asia and Latin America have become economic successes, with rising investment rates and rapid growth. For example, investment rates now exceed 35 percent of GDP in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, the share of GDP devoted to investment has fallen in the past two decades from 20 to 16 percent, while the domestic savings rate has fallen from 18 to 15 percent. These rates are far from those needed to bring about target economic growth rates. Existing foreign debt in many developing countries makes increased domestic savings and investment extremely difficult for these countries. Current efforts to relieve debt burdens must be strengthened to permit developing countries to generate the necessary domestic investment to realize the 2020 Vision.

Foreign private investment, loans from international organizations, and official development assistance (ODA) have long been seen as ways to increase investment in developing countries and to break out of the poverty cycle, although there is widespread recognition now that such foreign investment must be accompanied by complementary domestic policy reforms if it is to be successful. Private flows to developing countries have increased substantially since the late 1980s. In 1993, these flows, which include direct investments, international bank lending, and bond lending, constituted 56 percent of total net resource flows to developing countries, up from 39 percent in 1989. Most of these flows, however, go to a small number of medium-income, semi-industrial countries in Latin America and Asia. Poorer countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, are almost entirely left out and depend much more on aid flows.

ODA to developing countries is slowing, however. ODA from the 21 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) grew at an annual rate of 3 percent in real terms from the early 1970s to 1992, peaking at $ 60.9 billion in 1992. Driven by cuts in foreign assistance in 17 countries, ODA dropped by more than 6 percent in 1993. Its share of GNP fell to a 20-year low of 0.3 percent. Assistance from non-OECD countries has dropped even more dramatically; Arab OPEC countries provided 25 percent of world ODA in the early 1980s but contributed less than 2 percent in 1993. While foreign aid budgets rose during the 1980s, assistance to developing-country agriculture declined in real terms from $ 12 billion to $ 10 billion. Agriculture’s share of total development assistance declined from 20 to 14 percent during the same period. Given these trends in aid availability, developing countries are challenged to devise strategies for accomplishing their goals with less aid.

A summary of the actions required to address each of the challenges described in this section appears in tabular form in the appendix.