Report 2020

Poland on the way to SDGs
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Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Unequal distribution of food in the world

After years of gradual improvement, the scale of undernutrition in the world has remained the same since 2015. At present, almost 9% of the 8 billion world population are experiencing hunger. A vast majority of undernourished people are in Asia (over 55% of all undernourished people, mainly inhabitants of India) and Africa (over 36%, including inhabitants of Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenia, Madagascar, Mozambique and Chad). In Africa, the scope of famine is ever greater. Since 2005, the number of undernourished people in this region has increased by almost 30% (while the total population of Africa grew by 42%), to around 250 million (19% of Africa’s total population, i.e. slightly less than in 2005). Asian countries, on the other hand, have made considerable progress in reducing hunger and undernutrition. The number of underfed people has fallen in this region by 34% since 2005, but is still large – nearly 381 million (i.e. over 8% of Asia’s whole population).

Prevalence of undernourishment (%)

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2005 2019
WORLD 12.6 8.9
AFRICA 21.0 19.1
AMERICA 5.5 4.7
ASIA 14.4 8.3
OCENIA 5.6 5.8

Children are often afflicted by hunger. Among the other negative consequences of permanent malnutrition has for them, there is impaired physical development, which often takes the form of stunted growth. The scale of this problem is not as great as several years ago, but it still remains large. About 144 million children under the age of five, i.e. over 21% of the global population of children at this age, are not tall enough for their age. The vast majority of them (75%) live in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Over 47 million children in the world (7% of the global child population) do not weigh enough for their age. About half of this group live in Southern Asia.

Children under 5 years moderately or severely stunted (in millions)

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2005 2019
WORLD 183.4 144.0
Northern Africa 4.8 5.1
Sub-Saharan Africa 47.6 52.4
Latin America and the Caribbean 7.9 4.7
South-Eastern Asia 19.1 13.9
Southern Asia 82.4 55.9
Eastern Asia 12.0 4.1
Western Asia 4.7 3,4

On the other hand, malnutrition often leads to being overweight, which is becoming an increasingly common and acute problem, presently affecting 39% of the global adult population, 13% of whom are obese. The proportion of overweight people in all regions of the world has increased considerably since 2005, but is greatest among inhabitants of both Americas (where 63% of the adult population are overweight, and 29% are obese) and Europe (59% and 23%, respectively). What is especially concerning is the growing number of children who are overweight. At present, 21% of the global population of children aged 5-9 are overweight, of whom 9% in this age group are obese (almost twice as many as in 2005). As in the case of adults, this phenomenon affects both Americas to the largest extent, where 36% of children aged 5-9 are overweight, and over 17% are obese.

Prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents in the World (%)

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overweight obesity
2005 2016 2005 2016
5-9 years 13.5 20.6 5.1 9.0
10-19 years 11.8 17.3 3.1 5.6

Overweight in the Polish society

Poland belongs to the group of countries with the lowest indicators of undernourishment, but on the other hand, problems connected to malnutrition are becoming more common. The percentage of persons with excess body weight is on the rise – over 58% of the Polish adult population are overweight, men being so more often than women (66% and 51%, respectively). Wrong eating habits begin to be formed as early as in childhood, and so almost 30% of Polish children aged 5-9 are overweight. Likewise, the number of people suffering from obesity is steadily growing. At present, 23% of adult Poles are obese, and this problem affects men and women to an almost equal extent: 24% of Polish men are obese compared to 22% of Polish women. The youngest generation of Poles are also afflicted with obesity. It is a problem of nearly 13% of Polish children aged 5-9. Poland ranks 12th among EU countries with the highest obesity rates and 17th among those with the highest number of overweight inhabitants.

Prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents in Poland (%)

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overweight obesity
2010 2016 2010 2016
5-9 years 24.6 29.5 9.5 12.5
10-19 years 19.1 23.6 5.0 7.2

Government expenditure on global agriculture

Increasing the potential of agriculture could be a significant help in the quest for eliminating hunger and promoting balanced nutrition; however, government expenditure on agriculture remains relatively low. Since 2010, the global AOI (Agriculture Orientation Index for Government Expenditures) has been oscillating around 0.28, and so is lower than in 2005 (0.39). The regions with a relatively high AOI are among others Western Asia (0.63) and Northern America (0.54). The AOI in Europe, 0.46, is also above the global average, including Western Europe (0.82), Northern Europe (0.61) and Eastern Europe (0.52). Presently, in most regions of the world, this relation is lower than in 2005. It has fallen most dramatically in Eastern Asia – from 1.72 to 0.28. In Poland, the downward trend for the AOI prevailed: in 2018 it fell to 0.78 from 1.01 in 2010, but is still higher than the global and European average.

Agriculture orientation index for government expenditures

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2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
WORLD 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
EUROPE 0.6 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.5
Poland 1.2 1.3 1.0 1.3 1.2 1.0 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.7 0.7 0.6 0.8

Potential of the Polish agriculture

Poland is one of the largest producers of agricultural goods in the EU. Poland generates 6% of the EU’s total agricultural output and 17% of all people employed in the EU agriculture sector. Therefore, the ongoing structural changes this country are significant in the context of achieving balanced and efficient agriculture in the region. More than half of farms in Poland are small, but there is a trend of them becoming larger. Since 2010, while the number of farms in Poland has fallen, the number of farms of at least 20 hectares (including those of at least 50 hectares) has grown, and the average area of agricultural land within a farm has increased from 9.8 to 10.4 hectares. At the same time, labour efficiency in Polish agriculture has improved, increasing by 40% since 2010, which is much more than its average growth in the EU (by 24%). Nevertheless, Polish agriculture remains one of less effective in the EU, with gross added value in this sector (in PPS, per employed person) at 53% of the EU average.

Index of the real income of factors in agriculture per annual work unit (2010=100)

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2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
PL 100.0 113.8 106.3 114.9 95.7 97.2 124.8 143.3 134.4 140.3
EU 100.0 108.9 107.6 111.8 112.9 109.8 112.0 125.6 120.9 124.3

Agriculture and air quality

In the context of sustainability, what is also important is limiting the negative consequences of agricultural production for the natural environment. Agricultural activity is responsible for 9% of the total emissions of greenhouse gases in Poland (and for 11% in the EU), having increased by 1 percentage point compared to 2010. While total emissions of greenhouse gases have slightly fallen in Poland since 2010, their amount generated by the agricultural sector has grown by 8% (and by 2% in the EU). Farm animal rearing is the source of over 50% of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from all agricultural activity, whereas 46% comes from land cultivation. Agriculture is responsible mainly for the generation of nitrous oxide (53% of all greenhouse gases emitted in Poland) and methane (44%). Nitrous oxide is mainly generated by land cultivation (over 87%), while methane by animal rearing (almost 100%). The agricultural sector is also the main contributor to Poland’s emissions of ammonia, generating 94% of all emissions of this gas. Within agriculture, it is the use of natural fertilisers which generates most ammonia emissions (over 71% of all agriculture-induced emissions of this gas). Compared to figures from 2010, ammonia emissions resulting from agricultural activity in Poland have increased by 2%, to 19.9 kg per hectare (slightly below EU average, which equals 20.3 kg per hectare).

Greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture by source sector (%)

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livestock 50.6 59.0
managed agricultural soils 46.4 37.4

Influence of agriculture on soil

Artificial fertilisers are widely used in order to obtain better crops, make soil more fertile, and prevent its degradation. However, inappropriate and excessive fertilizing can negatively affect the environment, causing e.g. over-fertilisation of water. Additionally, an excessive amount of substances such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium or magnesium can result in their escape into underground or surface water. Nitrogen-based and compound fertilisers are those most commonly used in Poland. Since 2010, the use of nitrogen-based fertilisers has grown in this country by 15%, to 1.2 million tonnes a year (in the EU it grew by 11%). The use of phosphorus-based fertilisers, on the other hand, has decreased in the same period by 4%, to 148 thousand tonnes (while in the EU it has increased by almost 15%). The average use of fertilisers in Poland amounts to over 80 kg of nitrogen-based fertilisers per hectare of agricultural land, and 23 kg of phosphorus-based fertilisers per hectare. The composition of nutrients found in the soil shows a higher surplus of nitrogen (48 kg per hectare) than of phosphorus (1 kg per hectare).

Water erosion poses a great threat to agricultural land in Poland. It usually occurs during intensive rain or flows of surface water, especially on steep slopes, and is mainly caused by farming technologies, in the situation where no action is taken to limit erosion. In Poland, about 334 thousand hectares of land is threatened with deep erosion (over 4% more than in 2010), which means that 2% of the country’s agricultural land and natural green areas are threatened with erosion caused by water. Deep erosion of soil in Poland results in the annual loss of 16.2 tonnes of soil per hectare (compared to 15.9 tonnes reported at the beginning of the decade), which is less than the EU average loss of soil, at approximately 20 tonnes per hectare.

Consumption of inorganic fertilizers (2010=100)

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2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
nitrogen PL 100.0 106.2 106.5 116.3 106.9 97.7 101.5 112.0 114.7
EU 100.0 104.7 99.8 104.9 107.1 109.7 108.4 111.6 .
PL 100.0 115.7 105.0 109.2 96.6 86.0 92.3 97.3 95.9
EU 100.0 107.9 103.5 112.7 111.7 109.3 111.6 114.8 .

Biodiversity in agricultural areas

As a result of the intensification of agricultural activity and climate changes, biodiversity in agricultural areas is gradually declining. What shows either an improvement or decline of the condition of ecosystems used by agriculture are the changes in the indicator of the size of populations of birds of an agricultural landscape (which is an aggregated index of the state of populations of 22 species of birds typical of habitats in an agricultural landscape). Poland is experiencing unfavourable trends in this field: since 2000, the number of such birds has fallen by 23%. On the other hand, positive trends could be observed as regards the number of forest birds in Poland: since the beginning of the 21st century, it has grown by 28%.

Common Bird Index in Poland (2000=100)

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2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
farmland species 100,0 94,9 93.2 86.0 88.9 90.1 91.0 88.5 98.9 93.8 88.4 87.0 84.4 84.7 83.3 85.9 87.2 80.8 75.3 77.4
forest species 100.0 108.4 103.5 106.7 120.6 116.5 111.6 106.2 126.8 111.9 114.9 123.7 121.7 121.4 122.8 124.1 132.6 129.1 114.5 127.5

Raport 2020
Poland on the way to SDGs
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