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Global statistics mask substantial regional differences. The impacts of new technology have been uneven, and in some respects the agricultural technology gap has widened. For instance, average African foodgrain productivity declined in relation to European productivity from roughly one-half to about one-fifth over the past 35 years.
Even in Asia, where new technology has spread rapidly, productivity in relation to European levels dropped. The past few decades have seen the emergence of three broad types of food production systems, 'Industrial agriculture', capital- and input-intensive and usually large-scale, is dominant in North America, Western and Eastern Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and in some small areas in developing countries.
Though initially the new technologies may have favoured large farmers, they are today accessible to a growing number of small producers. Here, per capita production has been declining and hunger is a critical problem.
But today, all three systems of food production display signs of crises that endanger their growth. Signs of Crisis Agricultural policies in practically all countries have focused on output growth.
Despite this, it has proved far more difficult to raise world agricultural output by a consistent 3 per cent a year in the mids than it was in the mids. Industrialized countries are finding it increasingly difficult to manage their surplus food production, the livelihood base of millions of poor producers in developing countries is deteriorating, and the resource base for agriculture is under pressure virtually everywhere.
Impact of Subsidies The food surpluses in North America and Europe result mainly from subsidies and other incentives that stimulate production even in the absence of demand. Direct or indirect subsidies, which now cover virtually the entire food cycle, have become extremely expensive.
It has become politically more attractive, and usually cheaper, to export surpluses - often as food aid - rather than to store them. These heavily subsidized surpluses depress the international market prices of commodities such as sugar and have created severe problems for several developing countries whose economies are based on agriculture.
Non-emergency food aid and low-priced imports also keep down prices received by Third World farmers and reduce the incentive to improve domestic food production. The financial, economic, and environmental effects of the current incentive systems are beginning to be questioned by many governments and groups, including farm organizations.
A particular area of concern is the impact of these policies on developing countries. They depress international prices of products, such as rice and sugar, that are important exports for many developing countries and so reduce exchange earnings of developing countries.
They increase the instability of world prices. And they discourage the processing of agricultural commodities in the producing countries. It is in the interests of all, including the farmers, that the policies be changed.
Indeed, in recent years some conservation-oriented changes have taken place and some subsidy systems have increasingly stressed the need to retire land from production. The financial and economic burden of subsidies must be reduced. The harm that these policies do to the agriculture of developing countries by disrupting world markets must be eliminated.
Neglect of the Small Producer The new technology behind increases in agricultural productivity requires scientific and technological skills, a system for technology extension and other services for farmers, and commercial orientation in farm management.
In many' parts of Asia, in particular, small farmers have shown a remarkable capacity to use new technology once they are given incentives and adequate financial and infrastructural support. Small cash-crop farmers in Africa have demonstrated the potential of the smallholder on that continent, and in the last few years successes have been recorded in food crops also.
But ecologically disadvantaged areas and land-poor rural masses have not benefited from advances in technology and will not until governments are willing and able to redistribute land and resources, and give them the necessary support and incentives. Agricultural support systems seldom take into account the special circumstances of subsistence farmers and herders.Hence, the success of any decision depends on the conceptual skill of the people who make the decision and those who put it into action.
When, for example, an important change in marketing policy. 1 Objective 1: Improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training Global.
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