According to UN projections, there will be almost 9 billion people in the world in 2050, or an additional 30% more mouths to feed. This is a challenge that the planet can overcome, because according to most experts, world agricultural production can indeed be increased.
An article in Le Monde1 outlines two levers to achieve this: either by increasing production yields or by increasing the surface area of cultivated lands. If the FAO tends to favor the first solution because of the ecological imbalances that the massive clearing of forests in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa could cause, it is still optimistic about the ability to feed the world in 2050.
However, you could think that neither one nor the other lever would be sufficient in itself to guarantee food for everyone, as the problem is far from being a solely quantitative one. The current situation is proof of this: the quantities produced are said to be sufficient to feed the 6.8 billion people who make up the world’s population, yet 1.2 billion people still suffer from hunger.
As the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, highlights, “we need to avoid confusing the fight against hunger with the fight to increase agricultural volumes; otherwise the big producers will be the ones who will benefit.”2 Besides the qualitative issues, food security cannot be disassociated from the problems of access to food such as the availability of production, infrastructure, the ability to buy, etc.3 These are key parameters that need to be considered if we want to tackle the problem of hunger in the world today as well as tomorrow.
1 See Le Monde « Nourrir la planète en 2050, un défi déjà d’actualité », 16/10/2009
2 Cited in Les Echos « Alimentation : gestation laborieuse d’une gouvernance mondiale », 19/10/2009
3 See momagri “Food security: A Timely Political Issue” 06/04/2009 http://www.momagri.org/UK/Focus-on-issues/Food-Security-A-Timely-Political-Issue_471.html http://www.momagri.org/UK/Focus-on-issues/Food-Security-A-Timely-Political-Issue_471.html