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30/07/2010

FAO - Jatropha pro-poor development

Almost 2.5 billion people in developing countries earn their livelihoods from agriculture. Of these, 900 million live below the poverty line of USD 1.00 a day. In addition, agriculture directly employs 1.3 billion people, or 40 percent of the global labour force, yet agriculture only contributes around 4 percent of global GDP (some USD 1.6 trillion).

The first issue is whether, if these people stay in agriculture, the agricultural basket of commodities and products is large enough to improve their incomes and lift them out of poverty. As this is unlikely, the only possibility is to reverse the long-term decline in food prices and expand the basket. Of the several price peaks in the past century, the 2007–2008 food price peak was the most extreme. It was due largely to higher oil prices and the parallel increased demand for biofuel feedstocks being addressed through the use of food crops such as maize.

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