This year’s UN World Food day comes at a time when there is perhaps more food on the planet than ever before, but when millions still face starvation and the balance between abundance and shortage remains very fine.
US Department of Agriculture figures show that the world produced a record amount of the main grains (wheat, corn, rice etc.) this year at nearly 2.550 billion tonnes. That has resulted in stocks that are equivalent of 90 days supply. That might contrast with 60 days a decade ago, but it is sobering to think that if no grain was produced the world would run out of its vital staples in just three months and it is of little comfort to the nine million people facing starvation in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon that the world has never had as much food as it does now.
The way that the world’s farmers have produced more food in the last decade has been impressive and remarkable. Using their ingenuity and technology they have been able to improve yields helping to feed the world and preserve the environment. But with the population of the world continuing to rise, that work of producing more from less is never done.
- World grain production has increased by 50% in the last 30 years ¹
- Grain production has jumped 27% in the last 10 years ¹
- World cereals yields have increased by 170% in the last 50 years¹
- In the USA it takes 42% less land to grow 1,000 tonnes of wheat than it did 50 years ago¹
- In Germany it takes 59% less land to grow 1,000 tonnes of wheat than it did 50 years ago¹
- In China it takes 84% less land to grow 1,000 tonnes of wheat than it did 50 years ago¹
- More than a third of the population of the Central African republic, Haiti, Namibia, North Korea and Zambia are undernourished ²
- China has less than 0.1 hectares of arable land per person ³
- By 2050 Egypt will have less than 0.02 hectares of arable land per
² UN FAO
³ Supply Intelligence calculations