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Feeding the World after 2050 Professor Douglas Southgate 2014-2015 Agricultural Policy and Outlook Conference Series.

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Presentation on theme: "Feeding the World after 2050 Professor Douglas Southgate 2014-2015 Agricultural Policy and Outlook Conference Series."— Presentation transcript:

1 Feeding the World after 2050 Professor Douglas Southgate Agricultural Policy and Outlook Conference Series

2 2 Food Demand Trends up to 2050: Wealthy Nations Current combined population: 1.3 billion (out of 7.2 billion for the world as a whole). Total fertility rates (TFRs) fell to or below the replacement level (2.1 births per woman) at least a generation ago and now average 1.7 births per woman. Natural increase (births minus deaths) has ended or will do so soon, although population growth is still possible because of immigration. Engel’s Law, which holds that food demand grows less sensitive to income growth as living standards improve, certainly applies. Bottom Line: Modest growth in food demand for the foreseeable future. Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)

3 3 Food Demand Trends up to 2050: Emerging Economies Current combined population: 5.0 billion (out of 7.2 billion throughout the world). TFRs now average 2.4 births per woman and have fallen to or below the replacement level in many countries. There is still natural increase, although human numbers will peak and then decline – first in China (around 2030) and then in Thailand, Vietnam, Iran, Brazil, etc. Russia’s population is already contracting. Consistent with Engel’s Law, growth in the demand for livestock products, feed grain, and other edible goods will decelerate as living standards rise in these economies. Bottom Line: Substantial increases in food demand during the next few decades. Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)

4 4 Food Demand Trends up to 2050: Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Current combined population: 0.9 billion (out of 7.2 billion) in four dozen countries, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. In spite of recent declines, TFRs remain well above the replacement level, averaging 4.5 births per woman. Natural increase is elevated and will continue to be so well after the middle of this century. Living standards in “bottom billion nations” (as economist Paul Collier characterizes them) are miserable, which implies that higher incomes translate mainly into increased food purchases. But as Collier emphasizes, current prospects for sustained income growth are not encouraging. Bottom Line: Demographically-driven growth in food demand will be substantial well past Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)

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6 6 Food Demand in 2100: Wealthy Nations With immigration compensating for negative natural increase in these countries, their combined population at the end of this century will be little changed from what it is today: 1.3 billion. Engel’s Law will continue to hold, so increases in per-capita consumption of food resulting from improved living standards will be modest. Food demand growth this century, such as it will be, will relate entirely to these modest increases in per-capita consumption. Between their own production and the imports made possible by non-agricultural exports, these countries will feed themselves with ease. Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)

7 7 Food Demand in 2100: Emerging Economies After peaking around the middle of this century, the combined population of China, India, etc. (currently 5.0 billion) in 2100 will be 6.5 billion (out of 10.8 billion for the world as a whole). With increases in human numbers decelerating markedly, growth in food demand will be driven primarily by improvements in living standards. However, this growth-driver will weaken after Food insecurity could be severe in selected portions of some emerging economies – northern India, for example, which suffers from bottom billion realities (including elevated TFRs) and where water resources are severely depleted already. But otherwise, the emerging economies will feed themselves out of domestic production and imports paid for with non-agricultural exports. Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)

8 8 Food Demand in 2100: Least Developed Countries Bottom billion LDCs will not experience any demographic contraction this century. To the contrary, their combined population will triple, from 0.9 billion at present to 2.9 billion (out of a global total of 10.8 billion) in If economic growth in these countries does not accelerate, improved living standards will not contribute as much as demographic expansion to food demand growth. Food insecurity is widespread already in LDCs. A minority of these countries rely heavily on non-agricultural exports: crude oil, copper, and other commodities rather than manufactured goods. Barring a quantum leap in food aid, food supplies will have to be produced domestically. Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)

9 9 African Agricultural Development: Environmental Challenges Each and every one of us has family trees with deep roots in Africa, where the human race had its beginnings. A few parts of the continent are ideal settings for farming: the activity that has allowed human numbers to multiply as much as they have done. However, those favorable settings are the exception, not the rule.  Annual precipitation in the tropics and subtropics tends to be concentrated in a single wet season, which lasts several weeks or a few months and during which most rain falls in driving storms. Soil erosion is consequently elevated.  Aside from places with recent volcanic activity (around the Great Lakes of East Africa, for instance), soils are of ancient geologic origin and therefore heavily weathered and infertile. Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)

10 10 Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)

11 11 Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)

12 12 The Green Revolution’s Limited Impact South of the Sahara Thanks to agricultural R&D sponsored originally by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations and dating back to the 1940s, farmers adopted plant new varieties of rice and wheat starting in the middle 1960s. These new varieties responded to increased irrigation and fertilization and featured much higher yields. For various reasons, this Green Revolution, which saved countless Asians from starvation, never took root south of the Sahara.  Staple foods are different in Africa, which was not as poor and hungry as Asia was 50 years ago.  Water scarcity and other environmental challenges.  Governmental indifference to the countryside, as reflected in limited investment in rural infrastructure. Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)

13 13 Sub-Saharan versus South Asian Agriculture Annual Fertilizer Application Rates South Asia117 kilograms per hectare Sub-Saharan Africa 12 Annual Agricultural Water Use South Asia837 billion cubic meters Sub-Saharan Africa 84 Annual Cereal Yields South Asia 2.5 tons per hectare Sub-Saharan Africa 1.2 Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)

14 14 Doubly Green Revolution Gordon Conway – a past president of the Rockefeller Foundation (an original supporter of the Green Revolution) – has called for a major push to increase agricultural output in areas with elevated food insecurity, though now with more attention paid to the conservation of soil, water, and other environmental resources. Different from some self-styled advocates of sustainable agriculture, he does not oppose the use of inorganic fertilizer and other chemical inputs, which African farmers rarely use. Neither does he reject agricultural biotechnology. The application of biotechnology will grow imperative in Africa, especially if climate change coincides with growth in food demand. Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)


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