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The development of Brazilian agriculture: future technological challenges and opportunities

DOI: 10.1186/2048-7010-1-4

Keywords: Food security, Perspectives, Agricultural development, Brazil, Technology

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Abstract:

Ensuring food security has always been a priority issue for governments, international organizations, and society in general. Recent developments have further increased the political, professional, and public concern about this issue worldwide. After remaining at historically low levels for decades, nominal food prices have become substantially higher and more volatile since the 2007 to 2008 food crisis. Between January 2007 and June 2008, food prices increased significantly, ranging from 38% for sugar to 224% for rice [1]. Prices for other major food crops such as maize and wheat also experienced sharp spikes in the same period. Following this period of steep rises, the prices of these and other agricultural commodities experienced a downturn in the second half of 2008.From the second half of 2010, food prices increased again, and peaked in January 2011. Through the course of 2011, a downward trend was re-established, but prices are still at historically high levels (Figure1). Depending on how world production evolves in the next years, nominal food prices could remain at or even above the 1997 to 2006 level [2,3].The consequences of higher prices and volatility in food markets are well documented in the literature, and include economic and political instability as well as cycles of positive and negative effects on consumers and producers. At high prices, increased poverty and malnutrition among the poor can be expected, but this trend for higher prices may also enhance investments in agricultural activities [4]. With increased supply, food prices decrease, benefiting consumers; however, excessive volatility may discourage longer-term investment in agriculture, and hence jeopardize an expansion in agricultural supply.The degree of future volatility in the food system is uncertain. Therefore, efforts are needed to minimize high levels of volatility in global food markets and ensure food security for all. The nature of this challenge requires country-level actions on

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