UN FAO Estimate of (Needed) Food Production Increase

Just a small but not insignificant point of clarification here regarding the XPrize ‘feeding the Next Billion’ opening statement (see above): “Food production is projected to grow 70% by 2050…”

This ‘estimate’ comes from a report by the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (note: I reported on this back more than 5 years ago on the science/environment blog (planetsave.com). The original news item came from the journal Science (apologies; I am still trying to locate the source blog article).

In point of fact, the report did NOT say that food production was ‘projected to grow’ by 70%…rather, the report stated that global food production NEEDED to grow by 70% by 2050 in order to feed the projected 9+ billion people on earth (by 2050). This estimate was also presented in the context (in my blog article, and in the FAO report) of 25% of the world’s arable land (i.e., the soil) being “degraded” (unsuitable for crops)…thus presenting a serious challenge to growing this additional quantity of food (world wide).

This is an important distinction, and, certainly underscores the need for an XPrize Challenge on this important/vital issue.

Thank you for clarifying, @marz62! Important point.


Ok, I did more follow up on this issue:

My original (planetsave.com) December, 2011 article (titled: ‘One Quarter of World’s Agricultural Land ‘Highly Degraded’, UN Report Concludes’ ) can no longer be found as the URL is defunct (this is likely the result of a massive website crash that occurred in 2014 which required ‘manually’ reconstructing hundreds of articles and web pages, some of which got missed/left out).

Anyways, here is a link to a 2012 article from The Guardian that lays out the same statistics from the UN FAO report:


And here are the opening two paragraphs (from The Guardian) article that present the key take-away statistics:

‘The United Nations has completed the first global assessment of the state of the
planet’s land resources, finding in a report that a quarter of all farmland is highly
degraded and warning the trend must be reversed if the world’s growing population
is to be fed.’

'The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that farmers will have 
 to produce 70% more food by 2050 to meet the needs of the world's expected 
 9-billion-strong population. That amounts to 1bn tonnes more wheat, rice and other 
 cereals and 200m more tonnes of beef and other livestock. '

What is the probability that all will benefit from the program?

@megXprize - That’s a tricky question! The increased food production (assuming that we achieve the 70% increase noted above) will not be distributed “equally”…mostly due to the fact that the additional food is not needed equally…some nations o regions of the globe will need it more (and more of it) than others, while other regions or nations may need the additional food only temporarily (e.g., due to a recent crop failure, or, an influx of immigrants or refugees, who will stay in that country for an average of 4+ years, then relocate).

Then, there are the co-related questions of:

Do we substitute animal protein (meat) with alternatives (of equal or greater nutritional value, which may also be distributed more easily, in theory) AND can we scale up this alternative food production to the required million (or billions) of additional tonnes needed to feed the population increase?

So, the question of 'what is the probability that all will benefit …" from any putative increase in food needs to be refined in the context of human need; some nations will be able to ramp up food production (and even produce a surplus, to be consumed locally or exported) – thus having less need – while other countries may experience repeated droughts and famines and be in near continuous need of food imports (that the nation can afford, mind you, unless the distribution cost is absorbed and/or the production cost is subsidized at some point in the production chain).

And, a given nation may lack a scalable food production system.

So, this question is important (and brings up a host of other questions along side of the ‘who benefits?’ questions), as it (and similar questions) are often over-looked in some Grand Challenges (like a ‘new energy source’ that can be harnessed/utilized anywhere on earth; will there be equal access, based upon need, to the technology? The raw materials? The knowledge and tools to construct /implement it? Etc. ).

My interest is in achieving the goal. If the distribution is done evenly based on the population, then at least everyone would have a share as the PRICE of commodities will reduce.