There are three main reasons why the productivity of existing farmland will need to dramatically increase in the next 40 years.
The world’s population is unlikely to stabilise this century and is on course to reach up to 12 billion by 2100. That’s double the existing population and a lot of people to feed.
The economic growth, urbanisation and rising affluence of developing and emerging economies are driving “nutrition transitions” towards more Western diets rich in sugar, animal fat and protein. Note that it takes 2.5 to 100 times more resources to produce energy and protein from livestock than from grain.
There is limited scope for significantly expanding agricultural land after constraints and trade-offs are considered. The incorporation of new lands into production is likely to come with important social and ecological constraints and costs. Read more