Pandemic and climate are challenges for agriculture in America, according to experts

After two months of fall, the global price of food has risen again, according to the survey released today by the FAO-UN. Sugar, wheat and oils and vegetables were the main responsible for the increase. The index that measures the monthly variation in international prices of the basic sixth is close to 127.4%, its record level after 2011, when it reached R$ 137.6, and 3.1% more than in July of the year past.

Driven by frosts in Brazil, the world’s largest exporter, sugar had an annual high of 9.6% to 120.1%. Wheat increased 8.8%, while corn fell 0.9%, driven by the prospect of better production in Argentina, EU and Ukraine — factors that left cereals with 129.8% or 3.4% more than in 2022 The index of vegetable oils increased 6.7% to 165.7%, supported by strong Chinese purchases of beef, sheep and solid imports from Asia and the Middle East of chicken meat – meats registered a slight increase, to 112.5%. Dairy products, on the other hand, had a slight drop and stood at 116%, with international powdered milk imports decreasing on the basis of weak global demand.

Also today, during the second and last day of the conference of ministers of Agriculture of the Americas promoted by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the FAO’s deputy director general and regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, Júlio Berdegué, said that Latin America is a granary with thousands of kilometers of fertile land available for food production.

“Our 17 million farmers and 2 million fishermen, most of them family and small-scale producers, have known how to convert our prodigal nature into food for the world, and not just for the region. We must think about the transformation of these food systems for reasons of the past and the future. Half of the rural population is living in poverty. 60 million people in the region are starving. A third of the land is degraded and half of the land is overexploited”, declared Berdegué.

During the event in Costa Rica, the representative highlighted that he was concerned about agriculture and the permanence of young people in the countryside due to the new coronavirus pandemic. “Today’s farmers must produce in a scenario of climate change and need to think about their children and grandchildren,” he added. “We want them to continue being farmers. They will face this condition even more severely, if we do not act today”, said Berdegué. “The transformation will be the sum of numerous localized changes. Agriculture did not fail in the pandemic, but the pandemic damaged weak points in local and global agrifood systems”, he said.

Commentator Benedito Rosa also commented on the impacts of climate change on agriculture. “The conference of ministers discussed these themes, a merit for the IIC, FAO and ECLAC. They worked on realistic diagnoses that we are following: the effects of the pandemic have increased the problems of hunger, precisely the poorest strata of the population. The expectation is that at least there will not be a rural exodus. But, given this situation, what should be done?”, asks Rosa.

“The central problem, which the FAO registers, is the increase in rural unemployment and impacts on agricultural production. There is no simple answer — saying that traditional agriculture will guarantee food security is not like that. Family farming has a greater intervention by the State and can allow for a good productive coexistence with the large estates. This is our challenge”, points out the commentator.;