Threshing the harvest in West Africa. To meet the ever-growing demand for food, it is essential to introduce mechanisation and modern methods into agriculture. - - Population Growth Versus Economic Development. The present rapid increase of populations is most apparent in developing countries, many of which have an average population growth rate of 2.5 - 3.0% annually and where almost one half of the people are 15 years of age and under. How are the millions to be fed, housed, clothed, educated, employed, cared for in illness and, finally, looked after in old age? African governments are becoming aware of the social and economic implications of rapidly rising populations. Some have adopted policies and programmes in order to cope with their population problems. International assistance is increasing, with the UN Fund for Population Activities playing an important role. 1974 has been designated by the UN General Assembly as World Population Year in order to generate more action on population matters. FAO, in carrying out its mandate, is involved in improving food production and, at the same time, in making people aware of the relationship between family size and the provision of adequate nourishment for a better life. But there still remain many psychological barriers and prejudices to be overcome in the future.