Study: Global food production on the rise, but challenges loom as population growsOctober 16, 2013 | desmoinesregister.com
Regions around the world are largely managing to increase food productivity in the face of a growing population, but further investments and education will be needed to keep pace, according to a study released Wednesday by the Global Harvest Initiative at the World Food Prize Symposium.
The group’s 4th annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report reviewed food demand and agricultural productivity in five regions around the world. It found the gap in East Asia narrowed slightly since last year, but a greater dependence in the future will be placed on imports and increases in output to meet growing demand.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, overall production is expected to exceed demand by more than 50 percent, with Brazil leading the way. Brazilian production will play a major role in meeting the demand of China’s growing and more affluent and urban population. Meanwhile, the gap between output and demand remains large in Sub-Saharan African where the current rate of productivity growth is forecast to be only 25 percent of food demand in 2030.
“The overall findings of the 2013 GAP Report indicate that over the past decade, countries are managing to maintain growth in productivity on global average,” said Margaret Zeigler, GHI’s executive director. “But those findings should not downplay the serious and urgent fact that we must maintain an increasing rate of global agricultural productivity year after year for the next 40 years.”
The need to boost food production while conserving finite resources comes as the Earth’s population is forecast to increase to about 9 billion by 2050 from about 7 billion now. To do that, GHI said low income countries will need to focus on boosting investments, and rolling out new technologies and practices, especially among small farmers and women. In high income areas, investments in science-based technologies will be needed to protect past gains.