The future of food and agriculture: Trends and challenges

The future of food and agriculture: Trends and challenges

The future of food and agriculture: Trends and challengesFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Rome, 2016
180 pages 

22 February 2017. This FAO report sheds some light on the nature of the challenges that agriculture and food systems are facing now and throughout the 21st century, and provides some insights as to what is at
stake and what needs to be done. What emerges is that “business as usual” is no longer an option but calls for major transformations in agricultural systems, in rural economies and in how we manage our natural resources.

The report was undertaken for the quadrennial review of the FAO Strategic Framework and in preparation for the Organization’s Medium-Term Plan 2018-2021.

The purpose of this report is not to present a menu of solutions, but rather to increase understanding of the nature of the challenges that agriculture and food systems are facing now and will be facing into the 21st century. The analysis presented here of global trends and challenges provides further insights into what is at stake and what needs to be done. 

It assesses 15 Trends that will shape the future of food and the livelihoods of those depending on food and agricultural systems. Most of the trends are strongly interdependent and, combined, inform a set of 10 Challenges to achieving food security and nutrition for all and making agriculture sustainable. These challenges are presented in the final section of this report.
  1. Sustainably improving agricultural productivity to meet increasing demand 
  2. Ensuring a sustainable natural resource base 
  3. Addressing climate change and intensification of natural hazards 
  4. Eradicating extreme poverty and reducing inequality 
  5. Ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition 
  6. Making food systems more efficient, inclusive and resilient 
  7. Improving income earning opportunities in rural areas and addressing the root causes of migration 
  8. Building resilience to protracted crises, disasters and conflicts 
  9. Preventing transboundary and emerging agriculture and food system threats 
  10. Addressing the need for coherent and effective national and international governance

FAO. 2017. Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Africa2016. The challenges of building resilience to shocks and stresses.
Accra, 52 pages.

23 February 2017. Freetown. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched the FAO Flagship Publication Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Africa 2016 based on the theme – The Challenges of Building Resilience to Shocks and Stresses.
in collaboration with the Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) and other partners in the food and nutrition security sector

This publication provides an overview of key trends on food security and nutrition in the Africa region and includes a new analytical tool – Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) – to help enhance the understanding of food security and nutritional status. This tool will be used to monitor progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 2.1 (i.e. by 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round).


  • Mr. Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa;
  • Professor Patrick Monty Jones, Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security; and
  • Dr Bernadette Lahai, Vice President, Pan-African Parliament

The agriculture sector in sub-Saharan Africa is strongly based on household, small-scale farming, and the majority of African farmers cultivate less than 10 per cent of their land, which could be attributed to many factors including poor governance of land tenure and shocks and stresses due to climate change resulting in food insecurity. To overcome these challenges, the agricultural sector’s strategic objectives and priority activities should include increased production and productivity of staple food crops through a value chain approach for food security, promote commercial agriculture; promote and increase value-adding activities for agricultural products, increase the production and export of cash crops, and improve access to finance for farmers” Monty Jones

The report calls for the development of innovative resource mobilization from a broad set of stakeholders from the public and private sector and financial instruments that would enable the implementation of actions in a sustained and widespread manner to scale up food security and nutrition programmes in sub-Saharan Africa.

Extract page 6:
Five sub-Saharan African countries — Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Swaziland — are on course to reduce the number of stunted children by 40 percent by the year 2025, as established by the World Health Assembly (WHA). Thirtyfour countries are making inadequate progress, while Botswana, Djibouti, Eritrea, Gambia and Senegal are falling behind in reaching stunting targets. The region as a whole is off course to achieve the stunting target set for 2025 even though gradual reductions are being registered in some countries.

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