Who will feed the world in 2050? | Africa | DW | 23.04.2013
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Who will feed the world in 2050?

While the global population is continuing to grow rapidly, the amount of land resources is shrinking. Every three seconds, one person dies of hunger. Future generations are facing a daunting task.

According to a report by the United Nations Food Program (FAO) on average, every individual consumes about 1.4 kilogram (3lbs) per day. 400 grams (14oz) are cereal products such as bread. By 2050, the world's population is estimated to reach seven billion and it will need around 9.8 billion kilograms of food every day.

The world's population is growing rapidly and with it the demand for food. According to the United Nations, approximately 9.3 billion people will be living on earth in 2050. The global economy will also grow and people will have more money than today. Someone who has more money can also afford more food. According to the FAO, by 2050, every individual will consume around 14 percent more calories. That would mean that food demand will also drastically rise. If the investment in the agricultural sector will also increase, the FAO estimates that about 60 percent more food will be produced by 2050.

Vehicles are stuck in a traffic jam din Beijing (ddp images/AP Photo/Larry Downing, Pool)

The number of cars is increasing globally, as more people become mobile

As the world becomes more and more mobile, there are more concerns about the increasing demand for bio-fuels which could worsen the situation. In Beijing alone, there are more than five million cars and tens of thousands more get on the road every month. These cars can be powered by not only petroleum, but also by bio-fuel, extracted from sugar cane. Therefore, more and more arable land will be used to produce bio-fuel instead of food.

A man sowing a plant in Bukina Faso. Photo: DW/ Peter Hille

The increase of bio-fuel will lead to an increase in demand for arable land

On the arable land there will be rivalry between bio-fuel plants and plants used for food. But areas suitable for agriculture will be scarce. Because of climate change, the desert is widening in some regions and arable land is becoming too salty or sandy. To reach the goal of producing 60 percent more food by 2050, the world will have to not only increase its yields on existing farmland, but also find new arable land. What role can Africa play in this?

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