Are the planet's food systems capable of producing enough food in the future? This is the core question raised by the report The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in February 2017.
By 2050, humanity's ranks will likely have grown to nearly 10 billion people. In a scenario with moderate economic growth, this population increase will push up global demand for agricultural products by 50 per cent over present levels, projects the Report.
The short answer? Yes, the planet's food systems are capable of producing enough food to do so, and in a sustainable way, but unlocking that potential will require "major transformations.
Without a push to invest in and retool food systems, far too many people will still be hungry in 2030 — the year by which the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda has targeted the eradication of chronic food insecurity and malnutrition, the report warns.
Given the limited scope for expanding agriculture's use of land and water resources, the production increases needed to meet rising food demand will have to come mainly from improvements in productivity and resource-use efficiency.
The core challenge is to produce more with less, while preserving and enhancing the livelihoods of small-scale and family farmers and ensuring access to food by the most vulnerable. For this, a twin-track approach is needed which combines investment in social protection to immediately tackle undernourishment, and pro-poor investments in productive activities — especially in agriculture and rural economies — to sustainably increase income-earning opportunities of the poor.