THE FUTURE OF FARMING

A project with editorial contributions from The Economist Group

Farming and its latest advances are intimately connected to safeguarding the planet. This doesn’t only happen with the use of alternative fuel sources but, also, perhaps above all, through the development of more and more advanced technology. This trend is not only ethically worthwhile, but also contributes to creating greater economic efficiency. This is a commitment and a vision that New Holland Agriculture has pursued for more than a decade with its Clean Energy Leader strategy.

The Future of Farming is an important editorial project that has been developed along with the Economist Group, designed to focus attention on key data and produce in-depth discussion of the future, not only of agricultural mechanisation, but of the world’s population.



Articles from The Economist

Legume-shaped sensor packages may help preserve stored crops

Crop storage and the internet of things: Cool beans


Crop storage and the internet of things: Cool beans

HANDING a farmer a fistful of magic beans with the promise that they will improve his business might sound like something out of a fairy-tale. But, as Arthur C. Clarke put it, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The sensor-filled “beans” developed by Andrew Holland, an electronics engineer from Swaffham Bulbeck, near Cambridge, England, are not only advanced technology. They could also, Mr Holland says, provide an answer to many a farmer’s prayers.

Mixed into the contents of a granary, his beans would report continuously on the temperature and humidity, both of which encourage rotting if they are too high, and on carbon-dioxide levels, which reflect the amount of insect breath exhaled, and thus the level of infestation. At the moment these things have to be measured (if they are measured at all) using hand-held instruments that are plunged into the grain pile at regular intervals by farmhands.

© 2016 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at: http://www.economist.com/node/21694517


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BUILDING a wall of trees across the width of Africa is a tall order. Solving the twin problems of land degradation and desertification poses a greater challenge still.

The Economist explains: What is Africa’s “Great Green Wall”?


The Economist explains: What is Africa’s “Great Green Wall”?

BUILDING a wall of trees across the width of Africa is a tall order. Solving the twin problems of land degradation and desertification poses a greater challenge still. But more than 60 years after it was first proposed, just such a project is underway at the edge of the Sahara. The opening ceremony of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro thrust it into the limelight, with footage of its progress. On completion, it is set to be the world's largest living structure, three times the size of the Great Barrier Reef. What is Africa’s “Great Green Wall”?

In 1952 Richard St Barbe Baker, a British environmental scientist, proposed planting a swathe of trees across the southern reaches of the Sahara. The trees would block the wind and sand that move southward from the desert and improve the quality of the soil by binding sediment together and adding nutrients to the mix. Although Mr Baker was unable to convince others of his plan during his lifetime, the idea has since taken root. In 2005, Olusegun Obasanjo, then president of Nigeria, revisited Mr Baker’s proposition, seeing in it an answer to some of the social, economic and environmental problems afflicting the Sahel-Sahara region. An estimated 83% of rural sub-Saharan Africans are dependent on the region’s land for their livelihoods, but 40% of it is degraded—worn away by soil erosion, human activity and scorching temperatures—leaving much of it unfit for use.

© 2016 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at: http://www.economist.com/node/21701094


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Since 2006, New Holland Agriculture’s Clean Leader Energy Strategy has been at the forefront of agricultural mechanization.

The Clean Energy Leader Strategy: farming a sustainable future


The Clean Energy Leader Strategy: farming a sustainable future

The keys to the future? Sustainability, efficiency and “doing more with less”.

Since 1900, the world’s population has increased three times more than in the entire history
of humanity, going from 1.5 bn to over 7.5 bn people today. The United Nations predicts
reaching the benchmark of 9.7 bn by 2050.

As the demand for food keeps rising, people are also becoming more and more aware of the
great social, economic and environmental costs of an unbalanced growth: food insecurity,
waste and environmental degradation are only a few examples. The question is not only how
will we feed everyone, but how can we do so in a sustainable way?


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Unused TV spectrum and drones could help make smart farms a reality

Precision agriculture: TV dinners


Precision agriculture: TV dinners

ON THE Dancing Crow farm in Washington, sunflowers and squashes soak up the rich autumn sunshine beside a row of solar panels. This bucolic smallholding provides organic vegetables to the farmers' markets of Seattle. But it is also home to an experiment by Microsoft, a big computing firm, that it hopes will transform agriculture further afield. For the past year, the firm's engineers have been developing a suite of technologies there to slash the cost of "precision agriculture", which aims to use sensors and clever algorithms to deliver water, fertilisers and pesticides only to crops that actually need them.

© 2016 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at: http://www.economist.com/node/21707242


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If agriculture is to continue to feed the world, it needs to become more like manufacturing, says Geoffrey Carr. Fortunately, that is already beginning to happen

Factory fresh


Factory fresh

TOM ROGERS is an almond farmer in Madera County, in California’s Central Valley. Almonds are delicious and nutritious. They are also lucrative. Californian farmers, who between them grow 80% of the world’s supply of these nuts, earn $11 billion from doing so. But almonds are thirsty. A calculation by a pair of Dutch researchers six years ago suggested that growing a single one of them consumes around a gallon of water. This is merely an American gallon of 3.8 litres, not an imperial one of 4.5 litres, but it is still a tidy amount of H2O. And water has to be paid for.

© 2016 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at:http://www.economist.com/node/21698612


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Rich countries export air pollution, and its associated mortality, as they import goods

Global air pollution: Airborne particles cause more than 3m early deaths a year


Global air pollution: Airborne particles cause more than 3m early deaths a year

GOVERNMENTS fret over traffic and other local nuisances that create filthy air. But research just published in Nature by Zhang Qiang, of Tsinghua University in Beijing, and an international team including environmental economists, physicists and disease experts, suggests the problem has a global dimension, too. Dr Zhang’s analysis estimates that in 2007—the first year for which complete industrial, epidemiological and trade data were available when the team started work—more than 3m premature deaths around the world were caused by emissions of fine particulate matter (known as PM2.5, because the particles in question are less than 2.5 microns across).

© 2017 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved.
From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at:http://www.economist.com/node/21719780



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As water becomes ever more scant the world needs to conserve it, use it more efficiently and establish clear rights over who owns the stuff

Water scarcity: Liquidity crisis


Water scarcity: Liquidity crisis

“NOTHING is more useful than water,” observed Adam Smith, but “scarcely anything can be had in exchange for it.” The father of free-market economics noted this paradox in 18th-century Scotland, as rain-sodden and damp then as it is today. Where water is in ample supply his words still hold true. But around the world billions of people already struggle during dry seasons. Drought and deluge are a costly threat in many countries. If water is not managed better, today’s crisis will become a catastrophe. By the middle of the century more than half of the planet will live in areas of “water stress”, where supplies cannot sustainably meet demand. Lush pastures will turn to barren desert and millions will be forced to flee in search of fresh water.

© 2016 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved.
From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at:http://www.economist.com/node/21709530



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Growing enough food for future generations will be a challenge. Here’s how to meet it

Agricultural technology: Feeding the ten billion


Agricultural technology: Feeding the ten billion

ONE of the extraordinary things about the modern world is that so much of it takes food for granted. For most of recorded history, the struggle to eat has been the main focus of human activity, and all but a handful of people were either farmers or farm workers. Starvation was an ever-present threat. Even the best years rarely yielded much of a surplus to carry over as an insurance against leaner times. In the worst, none but the powerful could be sure of a full stomach.

Now most people in rich countries never have to worry about where the next meal is coming from. In 1900 two in every five American workers laboured on a farm; now one in 50 does. Even in poor places such as India, where famine still struck until the mid-20th century, the assumption that everyone will have something to eat is increasingly built into the rhythm of life.

© 2016 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved.
From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at:http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21700394-growing-enough-food-future-generations-will-be-challenge-heres-how-meet-it-feeding


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By 2050, there will be 9.7bn people on the planet, bringing increased demand on the world’s resources.

Executive roundtable: The future of agriculture


Executive roundtable: The future of agriculture

By 2050, there will be 9.7bn people on the planet, bringing increased demand on the world’s resources. When you consider that already one person in eight does not have enough food, the burden of 2bn extra people could be devastating if action is not taken. What the agricultural sector does now is vital if we are to prevent food insecurity, but it is already under a number of pressures such as reducing its environmental impact.

New technology, the likes of big data and innovative farming practices promise possible solutions but there are challenges. When farmers are under financial constraints and absorbed in their daily operations, adopting new technology is not a priority. Meanwhile, politics are at play. Whose ultimate responsibility is it to feed the extra mouths: should countries be encouraged to be more self-sufficient or is it the collective responsibility of everyone to work together?


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Farming has an impact on soil, on water and on the atmosphere, but technology and policy innovation offer many reasons to be hopeful

Agriculture’s sustainable future


Agriculture’s sustainable future

When world leaders met at the Paris climate talks in 2015, they signed a historically ambitious deal. After decades of grandstanding, governments are at last moving towards concrete measures to build a more environmentally sustainable economic model.

Fossil fuels and energy-related emissions are often the primary target of climate discussions, but the agricultural sector has contributed its fair share of problems. Farming takes a toll on soil, on water and on the atmosphere. Achieving the ambitious goals in the Paris agreement requires massive changes to our food system.


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The role of biofuels and agriculture in the fight against climate change

Fueling the farm


Fueling the farm

The global energy mix is shifting steadily - but irreversibly - away from fossil fuels. The signing of a landmark deal in Paris in 2015 showed the importance that world leaders now place on tackling climate change. But innovation in the private sector is also essential, bringing down the costs of critical technologies, especially in wind and solar energy.


The agriculture sector is at the heart of the transition, both as a historical source of emissions and a potential contributor to a greener future. In the past, pollution and land degradation caused by agriculture have made a material impact on the environment. In 2015, the agriculture sector contributed 9% of US greenhouse gas emissions1, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. But agriculture can also drive change – indeed, the future of our environment requires that it does.



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The Energy Independent Farm™ concept envisions the future of farming where farms are both more productive and more sustainable

The face of farming is changing


The face of farming is changing

The Energy Independent Farm™ concept envisions the future of farming where farms are both more produc;ve and more sustainable. Biogas produced from crops and waste products is used to generate biomethane, which is then used to power the farm and fuel the tractors that will help produce those same crops.


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Farms in the future will provide all of their own energy requirements.

The Energy Independent FarmTM


The Energy Independent FarmTM

Farms in the future will provide all of their own energy requirements.
In a virtuous cycle, they will generate the clean energy they need to run their operations
crops, and this energy can also
be used to run their tractors to grow the next crops.

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Wind and solar energy are disrupting a century-old model of providing electricity. What will replace it?

Renewable energy: A world turned upside down


Renewable energy: A world turned upside down

FROM his office window, Philipp Schröder points out over the Bavarian countryside and issues a Bond villain’s laugh: “In front of you, you can see the death of the conventional utility, all financed by Mr and Mrs Schmidt. It’s a beautiful sight.” The wind blowing across Wildpoldsried towards the Alps lazily turns the turbines on the hills above. The south-facing roofs of the houses, barns and cowsheds are blanketed with blue photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. The cows on the green fields produce manure that generates biogas which warms the Biergarten, the sports hall and many of the houses where the 2,600 villagers live, as well as backing up the wind and solar generators in winter. All told, the village produces five times more electricity than it needs, and the villagers are handsomely rewarded for their
greenness; in 2016 they pocketed about €6m ($7m) from subsidies and selling their surplus electricity.

© 2017 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved.
From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at: https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21717365-wind-and-solar-energy-are-disrupting-century-old-model-providing-electricity-what-will


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The SCEA Longchamps in Andelnans, France, was chosen to test New Holland Agriculture’s new concept tractor powered by methane.

Fueling Tomorrow’s Energy Independence


Fueling Tomorrow’s Energy Independence

The SCEA Longchamps in Andelnans, France, was chosen to test New Holland Agriculture’s new concept tractor powered by methane. It’s the key element for the Energy Independent Farm™, at the core of New Holland Agriculture’s Clean Leader Energy Strategy: producing biomethane to power the farm, the agricultural equipment— and the surrounding community.



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The Finnish refiner is turning slaughterhouses into oil wells

Burning the fat: Neste uses animal waste to make a cleaner form of diesel


Burning the fat: Neste uses animal waste to make a cleaner form of diesel

IN ALDOUS HUXLEY’S “Brave New World”, the human corpses in Slough Crematorium are turned into a phosphorous-based fertiliser. “Fine to think we can go on being socially useful even after we’re dead,” a character enthuses.

An engineer at Neste, a Finnish oil company, wryly echoes that observation while showing visitors around a novel diesel refinery in Porvoo, an industrial town 50km (31 miles) east of Helsinki. But the sickly-smelling brown gloop fed into the town’s pre-treatment plant has nothing to do with humans. It is made from the rendered fat of slaughtered cattle and pigs, transported by tankers in heated vats to stop it congealing. No reindeer, either. “Too lean,” he says.

© 2017 The Economist Newspaper Limited. From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at: https://www.economist.com/news/business/21721669-finnish-refiner-turningslaughterhouses-oil-wells-neste-uses-animal-waste-make



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Energy generated from renewable sources is growing fast

Daily chart: When the wind blows


Daily chart: When the wind blows

WORLDWIDE electricity generation in 2015 was just over 24,000 terawatt-hours. Only a small proportion of that total comes from wind, geothermal, solar, biomass and waste, but it is growing fast. Renewable energy excluding hydro accounted for 6.7% of the global total in 2015 and increased by 213 terawatt-hours. This rise was roughly equivalent to the total increase in global power generated, reflecting efforts both to promote clean power sources and to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Europe accounts for two-fifths of global renewable-energy generation, and it is wind turbines that dominate the European scenery. Exposure to the prevailing weather from the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean determines which countries have giant propeller turbines as their main source of renewable energy. Germany is leading the way, with an increase of power generated from wind turbines of 53.4% in the past year. Half of Germany’s renewable energy now comes from wind.

© 2017 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved.
From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at: https://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/03/daily-chart-2


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FILET mignon commands a princely sum on many restaurant menus. But bill-payers may not realise its true cost to the planet. Meat provides 17% of global calorific intake, but it requires a disproportionate amount of water and feed.

The Economist explains: Why eating more vegetables is good for the environment


The Economist explains: Why eating more vegetables is good for the environment

FILET mignon commands a princely sum on many restaurant menus. But bill-payers may not realise its true cost to the planet. Meat provides 17% of global calorific intake, but it requires a disproportionate amount of water and feed. And more land is given over to grazing animals than for any other single purpose. Overall the livestock sector accounts for between 8% and 18% of global emissions—about as much pollution as comes out the tailpipes of the world’s cars. Ruminant livestock, such as cattle and sheep, have stomachs containing bacteria able to digest tough, cellulose-rich plants. But along the way, huge volumes of gases are farted and belched too. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that the world’s domesticated ruminants annually release 100m tonnes of methane—a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

© 2016 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at: https://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2016/04/economist-explains-12


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After many wasted years, African agriculture is improving quickly. Here is how to keep that trend going

Farming in Africa: Miracle grow


Farming in Africa: Miracle grow

SOMETIMES it seems as though Adam’s curse, which promises mankind a harvest of thorns and thistles, applies only to African farmers. The southern part of the continent is in the teeth of a drought, which has been blamed on El Niño. The weather has been even worse in northern Ethiopia, where crops are shrivelling and cows are dying. But droughts, unlike biblical curses, end eventually. El Niño does not change the fundamental, remarkable fact about farming in sub-Saharan Africa: it is rapidly getting better.

The post-war green revolution that transformed Asia seemed to have bypassed Africa. But between 2000 and 2014 grain production tripled in countries as far-flung as Ethiopia, Mali and Zambia. Rwanda did even better. Farming remains precarious in a continent with variable weather and little irrigated land. But when disaster hits, farmers nowadays have a bigger cushion.

© 2016 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at: https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21694539-after-many-wasted-years-african-agriculture-improving-quickly-here-how-keep-trend


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The lithium-ion battery is steadily improving, but new research aims to turbocharge the technology

Energy storage: Charge of the lithium brigade


Energy storage: Charge of the lithium brigade

It is hard to imagine modern life without batteries. These storehouses of power open up new vistas, whether connecting people with the world through portable devices or travelling in electric cars. Yet, like many freedoms, the price is vigilance; the constant fretting over the charge meter.


Anyone who has spent time in an airport in recent years can attest that one of the most popular places to wait for the plane is by the rare wall socket or specially built tables festooned with electrical outlets. And for all the promise of the electric car, the distance it can travel on a single charge is limited, adding a new phrase to the lexicon of motoring: “range anxiety”.

© 2015 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved.
From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at: https://www.economist.com/news/technology-quarterly/21651928-lithium-ion-battery-steadily-improving-new-research-aims-turbocharge




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The power industry’s main concern has always been supply. Now it is learning to manage demand

Energy and technology - New business models: All change


Energy and technology - New business models: All change

THE BASIC MODEL of the electricity industry was to send high voltages over long distances to passive customers. Power stations were big and costly, built next to coal mines, ports, oil refineries or—for hydroelectric generation—reservoirs. Many of these places were a long way from the industrial and population centres that used the power. The companies’ main concern was to supply the juice, and particularly to meet peaks in demand. Most countries (and in America, regions) were energy islands, with little interconnection to other systems.


That model, though simple and profitable for utilities and generators, was costly for consumers (and sometimes taxpayers). But it is now changing to a “much more colourful picture”, says Michael Weinhold of Siemens, a big German engineering company. Not only are renewables playing a far bigger role; thanks to new technology, demand can also be tweaked to match supply, not the other way round.



© 2015 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved.
From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at: https://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21639019-power-industrys-main-concernhas-
always-been-supply-now-it-learning-manage







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A transition away from fossil fuels is necessary, but it will not be painless

At what cost? Can the world thrive on 100% renewable energy?


At what cost? Can the world thrive on 100% renewable energy?

A WIDELY read cover story on the impact of global warming in this week’s New York magazine starts ominously: “It is, I promise, worse than you think.” It goes on to predict temperatures in New York hotter than present-day Bahrain, unprecedented droughts wherever today’s food is produced, the release of diseases like bubonic plague hitherto trapped under Siberian ice, and permanent economic collapse. In the face of such apocalyptic predictions, can the world take solace from those who argue that it can move, relatively quickly and painlessly, to 100% renewable energy?


© 2017 The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved.
From The Economist, published under license. The original article, can be found at: https://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21725011-transition-away-fossilfuels-necessary-it-will-not-be-painless-can







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New Holland’s Long-Standing Tradition of Innovation and Investment in Technology Stems from an Everyday Commitment to Leading the Farming Industry into the Future, Sustainably and Efficiently.

Investing in the Future of Agriculture, Today


Investing in the Future of Agriculture, Today

Since Abe Zimmermann started building agricultural equipment in his shop in New Holland, Pennsylvania, in 1895, New Holland has been known for developing pioneering farming
solutions. In fact, the brand’s longest-standing tradition can be easily identified: it’s innovation.


For New Holland, innovation is key to developing a more efficient and more productive agricultural system. This vision rests on solid pillars — ideas crafted for decades, and eventually
crystallized in the Brand’s Clean Energy Leader® strategy. The first one is the use of alternative fuels generated by agricultural waste, biomass and biofuel crops. Another core principle is to increase the farm’s efficiency and productivity, while respecting the environment: the aim is to reduce both waste and emissions associated to agricultural tasks. Promoting sustainable farming means working with nature to ensure that soil will be protected and healthier for longer, and that farmers will be able to farm it just as efficiently for a long time. Lastly, at the heart of New Holland’s strategy is sustainability, from recycling to scaling-down and localizing operations: if you want to be a leader, you have to show the way.







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The emerging technologies that might help solve one of humanity’s most vexing challenges

The emerging agritech ecosystem


The emerging agritech ecosystem

In September, on a small field next to a rugby pitch in Shropshire, a rural county in the UK, a very special crop was harvested. The Hands Free Hectare (HFHa) project of local Harper Adams University used autonomous vehicles to sow and maintain wheat and drones to monitor it.1 It was the first crop ever to be planted, tended and harvested without human involvement.













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What goes onto people’s plates matters. So does what gets fed to animals

Feed and food: How to provide a protein-rich diet to a growing population


Feed and food: How to provide a protein-rich diet to a growing population

BETWEEN now and 2050 the planet’s population is expected to rise by a third, from 7.6bn to 9.8bn. Those extra mouths will need feeding, and not just with staples. As people grow richer, their demand for protein rises, particularly for meat and fish. Beef consumption in Asia, for example, is expected to jump by 44% over the next decade alone.


Raising animals to be eaten already has huge effects on the world’s environment. The number of farm animals soared during the 20th century. More than 20bn chickens, 1.5bn cattle and 1bn sheep are alive today. A quarter of the world’s land is used for grazing them. They consume 30% of the world’s crops. They guzzle water—you need about 15,000 litres of the stuff to produce a kilo of beef, compared with only 1,500 litres for a kilo of maize or wheat. And their eructations do nothing for the climate. Livestock are responsible for 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gases, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).




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