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New report: need to double agricultural output by 2050 but how?

October 14, 2010

The Global Harvest Initiative has released a new report (link) indicating that global food production needs to increase by about 1.75% per year in order to double food production by 2050 to meet expected food demand.  But there is a gap:  food production is only increasing currently at a rate of 1.4% per year and there are indications that this rate is in fact declining, not accelerating.  And, as the report notes, humanity needs to do this in a sustainable way:  “we cannot depend on bringing more new land into production, using more water than today, or employing vast fertilizer and pesticide inputs that could impact the environment.”

Not considered, unfortunately, was whether or not such an increase is feasible if key fertilizer components (P, K, N, etc) become unaffordable to many farmers due to emerging scarcity (also an issue for K) and soaring fossil fuel costs (an issue for production of N fertilizer) .  In any case, the report calls even more attention to the need for a concerted and intensive global effort to develop sustainable solutions for fertilizer production and recycling.


The growing gap between expected and required food production (


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