We face increasing demand for the world’s finite resources. From 1960 to 2007, the global population grew from 3 billion to over 6.5 billion. Projections for future growth take that number to nearly 9 billion in 2050. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that food production must increase by 70% between now and 2050 if we are to feed the world population.
Around the world, the ratio of arable land to population is steadily declining. Between 1960 and 2000, it declined by about 40%, but in developing nations the decline has been fastest. In Africa, for example, the ratio of arable land to population declined by 55%
in the same period (FAO Online Statistical Database). This means more food will need to be produced on less land to provide enough food without harming the environment.
The FAO’s projections revealed that even before the surge in food prices in 2008 and the global economic crisis in 2009, long-term trends of increasing hunger were already apparent. The FAO estimates that 1.02 billion people were undernourished worldwide
in 2009, representing an increase of 178 million from the nearly 842 million in 1990-92, a historic high.
The recent food price spikes in 2010 and 2011 have further contributed to hunger around the world, and experts, such as economist Jeffrey Sachs, have called on G8 governments
to put their words into action by creating a $22 billion fund for smallholder farmers as agreed in 2008.