Keywords: Population growth, Food demand, Developing countries, Food production.
Meeting the food needs of a growing and urbanising population with rising incomes will have profound implications for the global demand for food and hence for agricultural production and trade in coming decades. IFPRI projections indicate that between 1995 and 2020 global demand for cereals will increase by 39% and for meat by 58%. Almost all of the increase in demand will take place in the developing countries. Improvements in crop yields will be necessary to bring about the required production increases. However, growth in farmers’ cereal yields is slowing for various reasons, including reduced use of fertilisers and declining soil fertility. Without substantial and sustained additional investment in agricultural research and associated factors, it will become more and more difficult to maintain, let alone increase, cereal yields in the longer term. Developing countries will double their net cereal imports from the developed world to fill the gap between production and demand. The mixed outlook for the world food situation could be significantly worse with increased policy complacency or greater constraints in production factors, but with concerted political will and appropriate investments, a food-secure world is within reach.
Rajul Pandya-Lorch, Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Mark W. Rosegrant, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, USA
19 pages, 16 figures.