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Globalisation, agriculture and the LDCs
9 July 2007 - 11 July 2007
UN Ministerial Conference on the LDCs


Introduction

This paper examines the importance of agriculture in poverty alleviation and sustainable economic growth and development of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). It highlights key elements required to assist the LDCs exploit their agricultural potential so as to benefit from the changes expected from Globalization.

Globalization offers many opportunities and challenges for the LDCs

Although Globalization offers opportunities for growth and development in all parts of the world, the hopes and promises attached to rapid liberalisation of trade and finance have not so far been fulfilled in many developing countries, and particularly so in the LDCs. In fact, the latter are increasingly becoming marginalized, especially in agriculture.

LDCs face many difficulties, both internal and external, in their efforts to develop their agriculture and to achieve their objectives of poverty reduction through improving food security and increasing export earnings. Internal difficulties include low productivity, inflexible production and trade structures, low skill capacity, low life expectancy and educational attainments, poor infrastructure, and deficient institutional and policy frameworks. At the same time, with the growing integration of markets due to Globalization and liberalisation, their economies face a more fiercely competitive external trading environment. They continue to export a limited range of primary commodities that are highly vulnerable to instability in supply, demand and a decline in terms of trade. Besides price volatility, agriculture in LDCs is susceptible to weather conditions which determine the level of harvest and, therefore, with each country's domestic supply often varying along with the weather, LDCs can rapidly move from a surplus to a deficit situation. In addition, their external debt remains large. Their inability to compete in world markets, as well as in their home markets, is also reflected in their rising food import bills.

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