Louise Calderwood, Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance/ Monsanto
Determining the amount of food that’s required to feed the world is more complicated than it might seem. We can’t just increase production by the same percentage that the population is increasing, for several reasons.
To begin with, food is not a resource that is evenly distributed. In more affluent, developed areas food tends to be accessible and relatively affordable. In the poorer, less developed areas, there are still millions who go hungry and malnourished. Approximately 16% of the U.S. population faces food insecurity. Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as a lack of access by all members of a household to enough food for an active, healthy life.
And then there are the rapidly developing nations such as China and India. As people in those countries become more prosperous, they are able to buy not just more food, but also more protein. Since cows, chickens, pigs and other animals require multiple pounds of feed for each pound of meat they produce, a modest increase in the demand for protein is actually a huge increase in the demand for grain, water and land.
Another hurdle to meeting the world’s food demand is the huge technological gap between farmers in developed countries and those in developing countries. In Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia—the two areas where populations are growing the fastest—most farmers still work without access to the best agronomic practices and technologies, including more advanced seeds. This is due in part to barriers such as government regulation, lack of infrastructure and training.
Meeting the evolving global demands for food is more comlex thatn growing more food.