Global food production needs to increase 70 per cent by 2050: FAO

Global food production will have to increase by 70 per cent to meet the demands of an additional 2.3 billion people by 2050 even as nations have to find ways of combating poverty and hunger, using scarce natural resources more efficiently and adapt to climate change, according to a discussion paper published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Wednesday.

Boosting agricultural production to the levels needed for meeting global food demand by 2050 will require sharply increased public investment in research and development and widespread adoption of new technologies, farming techniques and crop varieties, FAO said in the discussion paper titled `The Technology Challenge.'

"FAO is cautiously optimistic about the world's potential to feed itself by 2050," said FAO assistant director-general Hafez Ghanem. However, he pointed out that feeding everyone in the world by then will not be automatic and several significant challenges have to be met.

Ghanem said there was a need for a proper socioeconomic framework to address imbalances and inequalities and ensure that everyone in the world has access to the food they need and that food production is carried out in a way that reduces poverty and take account of natural resource constraints.

Global projections show that in addition to projected investments in agriculture, further significant investment will be needed to enhance access to food, otherwise some 370 million people could still be hungry in 2050, almost 5 per cent of the developing countries' population.

According to the latest UN projections, world population will rise from 6.8 billion today to 9.1 billion in 2050 - a third more mouths to feed than there are today. Nearly all of the population growth will occur in developing countries. Sub-Saharan Africa's population is expected to grow the fastest (up 108 per cent or 910 million people), and East and South East Asia's the slowest (up 11 per cent or 228 million).