Global Food Security: Current Trends Insufficient

This week's U.S. Grains Council Chart of the Week illustrates the findings of a recently released study that concludes yield growth trends of major crops – corn, rice, wheat and soybeans – are not sufficient to double global crop production by the year 2050 without bringing additional land under cultivation.

A doubling of major crop production is thought to be necessary to meet rising consumer demand driven by population and income growth.

This chart illustrates the problem. Global yield for indicated crops is shown in dots for the years 1961 – 2008. Trend yields are shown with solid lines to 2050 (shaded areas show the 90 percent confidence regions). The dashed lines show the approximately 2.4 percent rate of yield improvement required to achieve a doubling of production from 2008 to 2050 without bringing additional land under cultivation. For each crop, the gap between the solid and dashed lines is the shortfall.

Creativity, innovation, partnerships and policies accepting of new production technologies are vital to lifting crop yield growth to a higher rate, securing ample food production to meet future demand on existing agricultural land.

Reference: Deepak K. Ray, Nathanial D. Mueller, Paul C. West, Jonathan A. Foley, "Yield trends are insufficient to double global crop production by 2050," PLOS ONE (www.plosone.org) Vol.8 Issue 6, June 2013.