Global trade in food and agricultural products more than doubles in the last two decades

Asha Bajaj
5 min readOct 3, 2020

Rome, Oct 3: Global agri-food trade has more than doubled since 1995, amounting to $1.5 trillion in 2018, with emerging and developing countries’ exports on the rise and accounting for over one-third of the world’s total, according to a new report issued today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), FAO reports said.

Fruit and vegetable vendor in Isfana, Kyrgyzstan. By participating in global value chains, smallholder farmers can boost their food production and income. Image credit: FAO

The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets, 2020 (SOCO 2020) argues that global trade and well-functioning markets lie at the heart of the development process as they can spur inclusive economic growth and sustainable development, and strengthen resilience to shocks.

“We need to rely on markets as an integral part of the global food system. This is all the more important in the face of major disruptions, whether they come from COVID-19, locust outbreaks or climate change,” wrote FAO Director-General QU Dongyu in his introduction to the report.

The rise of global agri-food value chains

The report estimates that about one-third of global agricultural and food exports are traded within a global value chain and cross borders at least twice.

The rise of global value chains is driven by income growth, lower trade barriers, and technological advancements, which have transformed markets and trade processes, linking farmers to traders and consumers across regions and countries.

“Global value chains can make it easier for developing countries to integrate into global markets. As they link our food markets closely, they also provide a mechanism to diffuse best practices to promote sustainable development,” said the FAO Director-General.

In turn, by participating in global value chains, smallholder farmers can boost their food production and income. On average and in the short term, a 10 percent increase in agriculture’s global value chain participation can result in an increase of around 1.2 percent in labor productivity, finds the report.

Smallholder farmers, however, are often missing out on the benefits of global value chains. Furthermore, the emergence of global value chains with stringent food quality and safety requirements could further marginalize…

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Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women