United Nations: India, projected to be the most populous country over the next decade, will be the world’s largest milk producer by 2026 and will account for the biggest increase in wheat production globally, according to a report by the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2017-2026—FAO stands for Food and Agriculture Organization—said the world’s population will increase from 7.3 to 8.2 billion over the course of the next decade with India and Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 56% of total population growth.

India’s population will grow from 1.3 billion to 1.5 billion, an increase of almost 150 million. The country will overtake China and is projected to be the most populous country in the world by 2026.

The report said that given their strong population growth, India and Sub-Saharan Africa will also drive a large share of global demand. It further said that over the first quarter of the 21st century, milk production in India will be nearly tripled.

“Over the course of the outlook period alone, milk production in India will grow 49%; in 2026, India will be the world’s largest milk producer, with an output one-third above that of the second largest producer, the European Union (EU)," said the report.

Global production of wheat is projected to increase by 11% over the outlook period of 2017-2026, while the wheat area increases by only 1.8%. The increase in wheat production is expected to occur through higher yields, most notably in Asia and Pacific, which will account for 46% of additional wheat production.

Within the region and globally, India (15 metric tonnes) will account for the biggest increase in production and Pakistan (6 metric tonnes) and China (5.5 metric tonnes) are also expected to have significant gains. The EU accounts for 13% of the production increase.

Rice production is expected to grow by 66 metric tonnes and will be almost exclusively driven by yield growth, which accounts for 93% of additional production.

The global area dedicated to rice is expected to increase by only 1% from the base period, while global yields will increase by 12%. Major production gains are projected for India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam with yields in these countries expected to increase by over 15%.

The report said global food commodity prices are projected to remain low over the next decade compared to previous peaks, as demand growth in a number of emerging economies is expected to slow down and biofuel policies have a diminished impact on markets. PTI