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Corn+Soybean Digest

We Need 70% More Food By 2050

Harvesting record corn and soybean crops will be essential if we're to meet the goals projected by the United Nations (UN) Food and Agricultural (FAO) organization.

In a recent report, it says world food production must increase 70% by 2050 to nourish a projected hungry human population of 9.1 billion.

Who better at helping reach that goal than you, the highest-producing and most technologically advanced farmers in the world.

According to the latest UN projections, world population will rise from 6.8 billion today to 9.1 billion in 2050. That's a third more mouths to feed than there are today.

The FAO report anticipates nearly all the population growth will occur in developing countries, with Sub-Saharan Africa expected to grow the most at 108%. East and Southeast Asia will be up just 11%. “Around 70% of the world population will live in cities or urban areas by 2050, up from 49% today,” the report says.

FOOD DEMAND is expected to grow as a result of rising incomes, as well as population growth. The report says cereal production will have to increase by almost 1 billion tons and meat production by more than 200 million tons to reach a total of 470 million tons in 2050.

More land will be needed for crops, too, “despite the fact that 90% of the growth in crop production is projected to come from higher yields and increased cropping intensity.”

The FAO estimates that “arable land will have to expand by about 300 million acres in developing countries,” mainly in Africa and Latin America. Also, “arable land in use in developed countries is expected to decline by some 125 million acres.”

GLOBALLY, THERE ARE still sufficient land resources available to feed the future world population. However, FAO cautions that much of the potential land is suitable for growing only a few crops, not necessarily the crops with highest demand. So farmers must continue to increase yields on the acres currently in production.

To help feed the growing population, Gebisa Ejeta, winner of this year's World Food Prize and a distinguished professor of agronomy at Purdue, says there must be a revitalization of the land-grant university system to assist in increasing food production by 2050.

The World Food Prize was founded by Norman Borlaug, the universally recognized father of the Green Revolution who was credited with saving 1 billion people from starvation.

In tough economic times, land-grant universities struggle with budget and personnel cuts. Still, we need to count on their Borlaug-like dedication to help provide the world's food security. I hope they can.

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