NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

World Food Outlook

September 4, 2001

Globally, due to rising agricultural output and declining prices over the past two decades, malnutrition of children under age 5 dropped from 45 percent in the 1960s to 31 percent today. The world will continue making progress against malnutrition over the next 20 years, says a comprehensive new report. Africa, however, faces a growing hunger problem.

  • Global progress will continue at a slower pace over the coming years, with child malnutrition declining only 20 percent over the next 20 years.
  • Latin America will virtually eliminate child malnutrition and China will cut it in half.
  • However, India will remain home to one-third of all malnourished children.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of malnourished children will actually increase by 18 percent.

In Africa, population gains have outpaced local grain production, and countries lacked the hard currency to purchase imports to fill the gap. To avoid soaring malnutrition, African governments need to invest as much as $133 billion over the next 20 years in irrigation, roads to take the harvest to market and crop research

  • A third of African children now suffer from malnutrition, but by 2020 Africa might have 49 million malnourished children, a rise of 50 percent.
  • Although three-quarters of Africans are farmers, African governments neglect the agricultural sector, and have invested in industrialization.
  • Larger yields are key -- a single acre in Europe produces six times the cereal harvested from an acre in Africa.

Africa would gain the most from full trade liberalization, says the report -- and one of the benefits would be the lifting of domestic taxes on production and consumption that discourage farmers from investing.

Source: Karl Vick, "Big Rise in Hunger Projected for Africa: Report Stresses Need for Massive Investment," September 3, 2001; Mark W. Rosegrant et al., "2020 Global Food Outlook: Trends, Alternatives and Choices," August 2001, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.C.


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