Global Food Demand

Food security is defined as access to food to meet what people need biologically for a healthy and fulfilling life. It implies sustainable agricultural production, sufficient income so that people have access to food, and availability of a balanced diet to avoid hidden hunger. Swaminathan (2003) defines food security in terms of availability, access, and retention of food. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

(1996), "Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life."

Food consumption as measured in terms of kilocalories per person per day is an important factor in the evaluation of regional or global food security. Global average food consumption increased from 2358 Kcal/person/day in 1965 to 2803 Kcal/person/day in 1998, and it is projected to increase to 2940 Kcal/person/day in 2015, and 3050 Kcal/person/day in 2030 (Table 5.1). The lowest levels of food consumption are observed in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Seven developing countries with a population of over 100 million are characterized by low food consumption. Among them, China, Indonesia, and Brazil have made notable progress, while India, Pakistan, and Nigeria are in a transitional phase, and Bangladesh is making progress in improving food consumption (Bruinsma, 2003). In general, developing countries still have food consumption levels under 2200 Kcal/person/day. This is not attributable only to supply deficits, however. Most food-insecure countries have been politically unstable, and ethnic conflicts have frequently exacerbated the problem of food insecurity, such as in Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republics, Chad, Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Kenya, North Korea, Liberia,

Table 5.1 Per Capita Food Consumption (kilocalories per capita per day)

Region

1965

1975

1985

1998

2015

2030

World

2358

2435

2655

2803

2940

3050

Sub-Saharan Africa

2058

2079

2057

2195

2360

2540

South Asia

2017

1986

2205

2403

2700

2900

Developing countries

2054

2152

2450

2681

2850

2980

Industrial countries

2947

3065

3206

3380

3440

3500

Source: Modified from Bruinsma, J., Ed. 2003. World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome; Earthscan, London.

Source: Modified from Bruinsma, J., Ed. 2003. World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome; Earthscan, London.

Table 5.2 Incidence of Undernourishment in

Developing Countries (millions)

Table 5.2 Incidence of Undernourishment in

Developing Countries (millions)

Region

1991

1998

2015

2030

Sub-Saharan Africa

168

194

205

183

Near East/North Africa

25

32

37

34

Latin America, Caribbean

59

54

40

25

South Asia

289

303

195

119

East Asia

275

193

135

82

Total developing countries

816

776

612

443

Source: Modified from Bruinsma, J., Ed. 2003. World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome; Earthscan, London.

Source: Modified from Bruinsma, J., Ed. 2003. World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome; Earthscan, London.

Madagascar, Malawi, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, and Zambia (Bruinsma, 2003).

The global incidence of undernourishment is summarized in Table 5.2. An estimated 816 million people were undernourished in 1991, and 776 million in 1998. This number is projected to decrease to 612 million in 2015, and 443 million in 2030 (Table 5.2). In any case, the demand for food will probably increase dramatically during the first half of the 21st century because of continuing population increases. Even though the rate of population growth is now declining, global population is projected to reach 7.2 billion by 2015 and 8.3 billion by 2030. An important concern about the growth in population is that most of the future increase (as much as 95%) will occur in developing countries where food security and malnutrition are already major issues (Table 5.3).

Population increases in food-insecure countries exacerbate food shortage by reducing per capita arable land area, which is already low (Lal, 2000). The world population in 1900 was 1.65 billion, while cropland area was 800 million ha, resulting in mean per capita cropland area of about 0.5 ha. Less than 8 million ha were under irrigation in 1900, and no chemical fertilizer was used. The world population in 2000 was 6 billion, and cropland area was 1.364 billion ha, resulting in mean per capita cropland area of 0.227 ha. Irrigated land

Table 5.3 World Population Growth (billions)

Region 1965 1975 1985 1998 2015 2030

Region 1965 1975 1985 1998 2015 2030

Table 5.3 World Population Growth (billions)

World

3.3

4.1

4.8

5.9

7.2

8.3

Developing countries

2.3

2.9

3.6

4.6

5.8

6.9

Industrial countries

0.7

0.8

0.8

0.9

0.95

0.98

Transition countries

0.3

0.37

0.40

0.41

0.40

0.38

Source: Modified from Bruinsma, J., Ed. 2003. World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome; Earthscan, London.

Source: Modified from Bruinsma, J., Ed. 2003. World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome; Earthscan, London.

area in 2000 was 272 million ha (FAO, 2001), and total fertilizer use was 140 million metric tons (Mt) per year (International Fertilizer Development Center, 2001), which in part accounts for the increase in the production and productivity of cultivated area.

The cereal production required in developing countries to meet future food demands is given in Table 5.4 (Wild, 2003). These levels are estimated to be 778 Mt by 2025, and 1519 Mt by 2050. This projected increase in cereal production translates into an average increase of 30 Mt/year, or about 3.8% per annum. The required increase may come by cultivating more land, increasing yields, or both. If the projected increases were to come from increased area under cultivation alone, then the area under cereal production in developing countries, estimated at 467 million ha in 2000 would have to

Table 5.4 Projected Future Food Demands in Developing Countries

2025 2050

Population (billions) 6.6 7.8

Required increase in cereal production (106 MT) 778 1519

Area required under cereal cultivation (million ha) 757 1032

Average yield of cereals (MT/ha/year) 4.4 6.0

Source: Modified from Wild, A. 2003. Soils, Land and Food: Managing the Land During the 21st Century. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

be increased to 757 million ha by 2025, and 1.032 billion ha by 2050. In most developing countries, however, there is little or no additional land available. Available land is agriculturally marginal, inaccessible, or located in ecologically sensitive regions. Thus, any major increases in food production must occur through increases in crop yields per unit of land and labor.

Wild (2003) estimated that average cereal yield in developing countries of 2.64 MT/ha in 2000 will have to be increased to 4.4 MT/ha/year by 2025, an increase of 67%, and to 6.0 MT/ha/year by 2050, an increase of 127% in 50 years. Several important technological options exist to increase crop yields, including crop varieties based on transgenics, increasing cropping intensity, enhancing fertilizer use and its efficiency by integrated nutrient management and precision farming, enhancing water use efficiency through soil-water conservation, and improved methods of irrigation and integrated pest management. Many studies have shown that agricultural production in the upper Midwest region of the United States (e.g., the heart of the U.S. Corn Belt) will at best remain stable under future climate change (Doering et al., 2002). However, there may be possible adverse effects of global climate change on crop production in ecologically sensitive regions where population growth rates are high and natural resources are already under great stress, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and South and Central Asia.

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