Loss of land through desertification and drought costs up to five percent of world agricultural gross domestic product (AGDP), or some $450 billion (340 billion euros), every year, said a study presented at a UN conference yesterday.
Each year an area roughly three times the size of Switzerland is lost through soil degradation, it said, as 870 million people suffer from chronic hunger.
Between four and 12 percent of Africa's AGDP is lost due to degraded land annually, and in Guatemala the figure is 24 percent, the report said.
In Uzbekistan, food yields have declined by 20-30 percent due to deteriorated land, while in East Africa nearly 3.7 million people need food assistance as a result of the drought of 2011, it said.
The study, a summary of published research, was presented at the opening of a four-day conference in Bonn of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and is the most detailed exploration of the economic cost of degraded and desertified land since 1992, the UNCCD said.