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

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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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