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Challenges of Feeding the World by 2050

Feb 27

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2/27/2013 8:51 AM  RssIcon

By 2050 the world’s population will reach 9.1 billion, 34 % higher than today. Nearly all of this population increase will occur in developing countries. Urbanization will continue at an accelerated pace, and about 70 % of the world’s population will be urban (compared to 49 % today). In order to feed this larger, more urban population, food production excluding crops used for biofuels, must increase by 70 %. 

The agricultural community will have to produce the same amount of food in the next 40 years that was produced in the last 12,000 years to feed the growing population. This is going to require a remarkable effort from all those involved in this process, from breeding companies to marketing companies to the growers and distribution systems. More food has to be produced with less land, limited water, limited fossil fuels and the changing climate. This food also has to get to markets with minimum wastage.

The number of hectares required to feed individuals has changed dramatically over the years. In 1960 1 hectare fed 2 people but by 2025 that same hectare needs to feed 5 people. Horticultural crops have a significant role to play in the contribution to food and nutrition security. Horticultural species offer a higher nutritional value per unit area and higher yields than cereal production. Horticultural crops are however more labour intensive, and therefore also offer an opportunity for job creation. 

Ninety % of the growth in crop production globally (80 % in developing countries) is expected to come from higher yields and increased cropping intensity, with the remainder coming from land expansion. Arable land would expand by some 70 million ha (or less than 5 %), with the expansion in developing countries by about 120 million ha (or 12 %) being offset by a decline of some 50 million ha (or 8 %) in the developed countries.

Careful screening and continual improvement of lines with higher yields, better disease resistance and adaptability to the climate is something that Lefroy Valley focuses a great deal of attention on. Variety is life. Australia has a significant role to play in supplying food for local consumption, but also has the potential in the future to be a significant supplier to the Asia food basket.

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