How has world agriculture changed over the last decade?
Not too much has changed in the discussion about India over the last decade either. In the 2004 report we wrote “People talk about the emergence of an affluent middle class of about 250 million people with improving diets driving food demand up. But the data for India shows no increase in per capita grain consumption. A decade ago per capita consumption in India totaled about 400 pounds. In 2004-05 it is estimated at just over 375 pounds”. For comparison, the data for 2012/13 shows India’s per capita consumption at 376 pounds. This may change with India’s new program to make grain available to the country’s 800 million poor people, but there are few signs that the economic progress in the country has had a big impact on grain consumption.
A decade ago the countries of the former Soviet Union were beginning to show signs that the region would be an important player in world grain markets. The 2004 report stated “The region (the FSU) drove world markets years ago by buying huge amounts of grain from exporters such as the U.S. Now they are emerging as major exporters, especially for wheat”. “The region could also be a net exporter of coarse grains over the forecast period as well”. Grain area had declined by 16 million hectares from 1994 to 2004 but the forecast called for that trend to reverse. The forecast called for the FSU to export 20 million tonnes of wheat in 2013/14 and 6 million tonnes of coarse grains. Actual exports are expected to be well above those levels.
In 2004 the AIDS pandemic was a serious problem for Africa. AIDS was expected to slow population growth, reduce the working age population and keep per capita food consumption from rising. Africa was a huge grain importer even a decade ago, buying 20 million tonnes of wheat, about 10 million tonnes of coarse grains and 6 million tonnes of rice. With the population increasing at about 2 percent per year and forecast to reach 1.08 billion by 2014 it was clear that meeting the food needs of Africa would be challenging.
Grain area in Africa had increased by about 6 million to 7 million hectares from 1994 to 2004 and a similar increase was forecast for the 2004 to 2013 period. But there has been a lot of investment in agriculture in Africa over the last decade and the actual increase in grain area is put at 12 million hectares. With the gains in production, and more imports, per capita grain consumption in Africa has increased by about 6 percent over the past decade. Grain imports increased by 13 million tonnes over the decade, an increase of more than 25 percent. This was slightly more than the increase forecast in 2004.