September 23, 2009

Food Demand Will Require 70 Percent More In 2050: FAO

With the likely addition of about 2.3 billion mouths to feed, the world will require 70 percent more food by 2050, according to a UN report on Wednesday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization added that as the global population rises from its current level at 6.8 billion people to 9.1 billion, it would also have to fight poverty and hunger.

"FAO is cautiously optimistic about the world's potential to feed itself by 2050," said FAO Assistant Director-General Hafez Ghanem.

The FAO report said "using scarce natural resources more efficiently and adapting to climate change" would be the primary challenges for world agriculture in the future.

Ghanem is urging for the formation of a socioeconomic framework "to address imbalances and inequalities and ensure that everyone in the world has access to the food they need."

The report comes weeks before a high-level expert forum in Rome on October 12-13 to discuss strategies on "How to Feed the World in 2050". The forum is expected to bring in 300 experts from academic, nongovernmental and private sector institutions from developing and developed countries.

The FAO cited global projections to show the need for significant investment in access to food, otherwise about 370 million people could go hungry in 2050. This figure accounts for about 5 percent of the populations of developing nations, according to the organization.

About 70 percent of the world population will live in cities or urban areas by 2050, up from 49 percent today.

Along with population growth will come income increases, which will add more demand for food in coming decades, said the FAO.

Demand for cereals, for both humans and animals, is projected to reach some 3 billion tons by 2050. This would require annual cereal production to increase by almost a billion tones and meat production by over 200 million tons to reach a total of 470 million tons in 2050.

Land dedicated to food growth would have to increase by about 120 million hectares in developing countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

"Arable land in use in developed countries is expected to decline by some 50 million hectares, although this could be changed by the demand for biofuels," according to the report.


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