Posts Tagged ‘Food production’

What food crisis?

July 16, 2013

In 1961 the world population was just over 3 billion. Now it is 7 billion. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s 2013 Statistical Year Book is now out and shows that during this period:

Agricultural production has increased  

  • Global crop production has expanded threefold over the past 50 years, largely through higher yields per unit of land and crop intensification.
  • Global per capita food supply rose from about 2 200 kcal/day in the early 1960s to over 2 800 kcal/day by 2009
  • Buoyed by high commodity prices, agriculture has demonstrated astonishing resilience during global economic turmoil. In 2010, agricultural value-added at the world level rose by 4 percent, in contrast to a 1 percent increase in overall GDP.

image UNEP/GEAS

So while population has increased by a factor of 2.3, the food available per person has increased by about 30%. Of course there are many millions who still suffer from malnutrition but this is primarily due to poverty and a failing of distribution systems. It is not the availability of food which has failed. The proportion of the population which is under-nourished continues to steadily decline.

(more…)

Food production can double and solutions are available for feeding the planet

October 14, 2011

A new study shows that alarmist, Malthusian, doomsday scenarios regarding feeding the world’s population which may reach 9 billion in 2050 are not justified.

A team of researchers from Canada, the U.S., Sweden and Germany has concluded from modelling results that it is feasible to double the world’s food production while reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture. Their findings were recently published in the journal Nature.

Solutions for a cultivated planet, by Jonathan A. Foley, Navin Ramankutty, Kate A. Brauman, Emily S. Cassidy, James S. Gerber, Matt Johnston, Nathaniel D. Mueller, Christine O’Connell, Deepak K. Ray, Paul C. West, Christian Balzer, Elena M. Bennett, Stephen R. Carpenter, Jason Hill, Chad Monfreda, Stephen Polasky, Johan Rockström, John Sheehan, Stefan Siebert, David Tilman, David P. M. Zaks. . Nature, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/nature10452

Science Daily:

By combining information gathered from crop records and satellite images from around the world, they have been able to create new models of agricultural systems and their environmental impacts that are truly global in scope. ….

The researchers recommend:

  1. Halting farmland expansion and land clearing for agricultural purposes, particularly in the tropical rainforest. This can be achieved using incentives such as payment for ecosystem services, certification and ecotourism. This change will yield huge environmental benefits without dramatically cutting into agricultural production or economic well-being.
  2. Improving agricultural yields. Many farming regions in Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe are not living up to their potential for producing crops — something known as “yield gaps.” Improved use of existing crop varieties, better management and improved genetics could increase current food production nearly by 60 per cent.
  3. Supplementing the land more strategically. Current use of water, nutrients and agricultural chemicals suffers from what the research team calls “Goldilocks’ Problem”: too much in some places, too little in others, rarely just right. Strategic reallocation could substantially boost the benefit we get from precious inputs.
  4. Shifting diets. Growing animal feed or biofuels on prime croplands, no matter how efficiently, is a drain on human food supply. Dedicating croplands to direct human food production could boost calories produced per person by nearly 50 per cent. Even shifting nonfood uses such as animal feed or biofuel production away from prime cropland could make a big difference.
  5. Reducing waste. One-third of the food produced by farms ends up discarded, spoiled or eaten by pests. Eliminating waste in the path that food takes from farm to mouth could boost food available for consumption another 50 per cent.

The study also outlines approaches to the problem that would help policy-makers reach informed decisions about the agricultural choices facing them. “For the first time, we have shown that it is possible to both feed a hungry world and protect a threatened planet,” said lead author Jonathan Foley, head of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. “It will take serious work. But we can do it.”

Related:

Malthusian doomsday postponed – indefinitely 

7 billion people from October 31st by UN decree – but it is an opportunity not a problem

No food crisis in sight: World can feed its 9 billion in 2050

January 13, 2011
Smaller cropped version, made for Template:Agr...

Image via Wikipedia

Doomsday proponents will not like this new on-line publication in Nature and are already beginning to object. But I see no resource or food crunch that cannot be addressed by human ingenuity and the development of technology.

Paillard, S., Treyer, S. & Dorin, B. Agrimonde: Scenarios and Challenges for Feeding the World in 2050 (Editions Quae, 2011) doi:10.1038/news.2011.14

From Nature News:

Future of food could be bright: French agencies’ study punctures assumptions about the state of global agriculture.

The world will be able to feed the predicted 2050 population of nine billion people, according to two French agricultural research organizations. In a joint report published today, they lay out findings gleaned from 2006 to 2008 that could overturn some current assumptions about the state of global farming.

The report, titledAgrimonde, is published by the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and the Centre for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development (CIRAD), both headquartered in Paris. It contains some surprise findings on Africa and other regions — the latest results from an ongoing study by the two research agencies.

Agricultural productivity in Africa doubled between 1961 and 2003 — a finding that overturns most assumptions “and is one of the most surprising results of our work”, Patrick Caron, CIRAD’s director-general for research and strategy, told reporters last night.

African productivity remains the lowest in the world, however, averaging 10,000 kilocalories per hectare (kcal ha–1) compared with 20,000 kcal ha–1 globally and 25,000 kcal ha–1 in Asia. Productivity elsewhere doubled or tripled over the same period.

Asia scored higher on productivity than in other studies, because the agencies looked at aggregate rather than independent annual yields of wheat, rice and other crops, explains Bruno Dorin, an economist at CIRAD and one of the report’s authors. “In Asia, the wheat yield may be lower, but if you take account of rice and other crops grown in the same year, the total yield is higher,” he says.

Another finding to emerge is that major reserves of potential farmland exist across the globe, especially in Africa and Latin America, Dorin says. “The 1.5 billion hectares of land now cultivated could be increased to 4 billion, but this would of course be at the expense of pastures and forests, which are a reservoir of biodiversity and carbon,” he adds.

Read the original article:

http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110112/full/news.2011.14.html



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