The food and agriculture systems fulfil a wide range of functions vital to the well-being of humanity. Being at the heart of global food security, they are expected to provide the world with adequate and reliable supplies of safe, healthy and nutritious food. They are also crucial for the livelihoods of billions of people, including many of the world’s poorest, providing direct employment and income and contributing to the broader rural and overall economic development. To continue to fulfil these key roles, agricultural productivity has to increase in a sustainable manner.

The 2016 edition of the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook provides an assessment of the medium-term prospects of global agriculture. The report highlights that for the sector to meet the expanding demand for food, feed and raw products for industrial uses, significant production growth is needed. This expansion will have to take place in the face of declining land and water availability for many areas in the world, compounded by the effects of climate change. It is clear that the majority of growth will have to come from more efficiency in agricultural production, but also from improvements throughout the wider value chain. The international community has recognised the key role of agriculture in addressing society’s goals. Agriculture is a key sector for the achievement of many goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to end poverty and hunger and promote prosperity and people’s wellbeing, while protecting the environment. This Outlook outlines how agriculture can actively contribute to the attainment of these goals. While improvements to the global availability of, and access to, food are expected in the coming years, many countries will continue to be burdened with undernourishment and face increasingly complex issues of various forms of malnutrition, as was highlighted by the 2014 Second International Conference on Nutrition’s Declaration. Moreover, stability and reliability of food supplies are also at risk in a diverse range of geographical regions and climate zones, due primarily to the effects of climate change. Recognising the vulnerability of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change, 195 countries agreed to take measures under the Paris Agreement reached at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in December 2015. Agriculture and the food chain will need to adapt to the changing climate and contribute to the mitigation efforts.This Outlook also confirms the increasing role of trade in global food security, as food supply and demand will be more and more geographically separated. Reliable trade relations between import dependent countries and their suppliers are of vital importance. The Nairobi Package, adopted at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2015, contains decisions that constitute an important step in the reform of agricultural trade, in particular concerning export competition and issues such as the elimination of export subsidies and disciplines on export credits, food aid and state-trading enterprises. All these wide-ranging expectations for food and agriculture were at the heart of the discussions and the shared goals expressed by Ministers at the OECD Agriculture Ministerial held in April 2016, under the theme of “Better policies to achieve a productive, sustainable and resilient global food system”. This year’s edition of the Outlook includes a special focus on the prospects and challenges for agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. The region is home for nearly 1 billion people, and agriculture remains a crucial sector for providing livelihoods to the majority of households. The report provides comprehensive projections for agricultural production and demand for more than 20 agricultural commodities particularly important to Sub-Saharan Africa. The Outlook is generally positive, yet the challenge of feeding rapidly rising populations remains formidable. The region has to overcome the challenge of low productivity of agricultural resources in the face of rapid urbanisation, increased globalization, the impacts of climate change, changing diets and the need for creating employment opportunities. The Outlook identifies some strategic priorities for ensuring that the region can take advantage of the opportunities and face the challenges ahead to achieve sustainable agri-food systems.  We believe that our collaborative effort on the annual production of the Agricultural Outlook, and also on the recently published OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains, enhance stakeholders’ understanding of the complexity of agriculture and the food system in general. This work provides a plausible scenario of world agriculture over the coming decade, which can serve to inform and support efforts by governments and other actors in taking appropriate action to the benefit of our societies.


José Graziano da Silva, Director-General, Food Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development