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Global food security

The JRC's research addresses the global food security issue, with the demand for food likely to grow by 70% until 2050.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) by effect of demographic growth and changes in diets and incomes, demand for food is likely to grow by 70% until 2050. T

he current outlook of increasing global demand is mirrored by considerable uncertainties of supply linked to unpredictable economic and political, but also climatic and biological (e.g. new crop and animal diseases) developments. This implies a need for accelerated agricultural production growth in developing countries.

The JRC is involved in three main challenges related to the increasing of food availability in the world:

  • support the dominant small-scale mixed crop/livestock farming systems;
  • ensure innovations from demand-driven research are accessible to farmers;
  • allow international trade from surplus to deficit areas, by regionally more integrated agricultural policies.

On the other hand, the EU and other developed countries' agriculture and food industries contribute to global food security being important suppliers of agricultural and food products in a growing world market.

The Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) can impact global food security and its possible effects should be taken into account.

Innovation for food security

Research and innovation is a major driver for increasing the availabality of food. Its role in ensuring food security, particularly concerning genetic improvement and biotechnologies, is evaluated.

Food security can be improved thanks to research and innovation, for example for strengthening the adaptation to climate change, improving the tolerances of crops and livestock to stresses, drought and floods.

Innovation needs to be accessible to farmers and adapted to their needs. In this context, the JRC research focuses first on the issue of tries to determine the role of factors such as R&D investment, genetic progress, changes in management practices, patterns of agricultural inputs use and policy changes in the final productivity of wheat. More generally the role of technological innovations (biotechnology) in food security is assessed.

Trade and model-based scenarios of global food situation

Policy and trade context directly impacts the global food situation. The impact of such factors on food security is modelled, including at long term, with a view to assess the different impacts of policy options, including within the EU, on the global food safety.

The recent reforms of CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) and other EU policies, as well as international and bilateral trade negotiations, take into account the objective of global food security. The JRC is involved is the impact assessment of policies and potential trade agreements through economic modelling, both global CGE models assessing the economy-wide impacts of the trade policy changes involving all sectors of the partners and global partial equilibrium models simulating only the impacts incurred by the agricultural sectors of the partners.

In complement to simulations of the impact on the EU, the same instruments are adapted to the assessment of impact on food security. Given the long term dimension of global food security, a specific approach to long term modelling in agri-food production and trade is also examined.

Food security and agriculture in low income and transition economies

In low income economies and less industrialised countries, food security relies on small-scale farming systems in a dual structure. A description of the agricultural potential of key areas such as the Black Sea area or Sub-Saharan Africa is carried out, as well as specific farm level modelling.

The agricultural production potential in the Euro-Asian / Black sea cereal producing region (Russia, Ukraine, etc.) is an important aspect of the global food security. This area is studied with a view to estimate the role of this region in grain supply to the world markets and to provide insights regarding food security in the short and medium run.

At farm level, developing countries are characterised by specific features such a small scale and a household subsistence character of producers: therefore specific models need to be developed to capture in low income economies and at farm level, and from there at regional or national level, the impacts of different policy options.

Kernals of corn and other grains
© Fotolia

Kernals of corn and other grains

Global food security