Table of Contents

  • This issue of The state of food and agriculture re ects an encouraging improvement in the world food and agricultural situation. The fuller data 1701V available confirm that in 1975 there was a large expansion in production both in the developing countries and in the ttvo major exporting regions of North America and Oceania. The 1976 harvests also appear, generally, to have been good. Prices of fertilizers, as well as of most of the main food products, have fallen from their recent very high levels. Food consumption levels have recovered to some extent, and cereal stocks have begun to be replenished.

  • During 1976 there was a distinct improvement in the immediate world food and agricultural situation. With a big expansion in production in 1975 in the developing countries and in North America and Oceania, and generally good to excellent harvests in 1976, food prices tended to ease and there was some recovery both in the food consumption of the developing countries and in world cereal stocks from the low levels of recent years. Nevertheless, only small progress was made toward the longer-term goal of greater world food security. In spite of the steps taken by many developing countries to give agriculture a higher priority in their national development plans, and implementation of various new policies and measures to raise output, the recent production increases must, as so often in the past, be mainly attributed to better weather. The longer-term trend in food production in the developing countries remains disappointingly inadequate in relation to the need to improve nutritional levels. Recent trends in world trade in agricultural products have been unfavorable for the developing countries. Although there have been discussions and negotiations on such matters recently in many international fora, virtually no concrete progress has been made. There has been an encouraging expansion in the amount of international development assistance available for agriculture in the developing countries, but the latest information indicates that commitments by the two major sources of loans may have declined in 1976.

  • With the introduction of agriculture, man began to apply energy to control the growth of plants and animals, in order to make better use of the solar energy stored in plants by photosynthesis. For many thousands of years, the only energy he used for this purpose was his own human energy. The energy he drew from the biosphere was limited to the dietary energy provided by his food, and to the use of vegetation as fuel for heating and cooking. Later he learned to harness animal, water and wind energy in order to obtain power for transport and for simple agricultural and industrial processes. As his numbers grev, his use of energy increased steadily, but all of it came from renewable resources.