315-3 Feeding the World in 21st Century Challenges and Opportunities.

See more from this Division: ASA Section: Global Agronomy
See more from this Session: General Global Agronomy: III
Wednesday, October 19, 2011: 1:35 PM
Henry Gonzalez Convention Center, Room 210A
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Bir B. Singh, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Since the dawn of settled life, for over 10,000 years, the human beings have grown sufficient food to feed themselves and all the dooms day predictions have been proved wrong   In the sixties, Paul Ehrlich’s book, ‘Population Bomb’ predicted a severe famine in 1970s but that was again proved wrong by the human ingenuity that brought green revolution.. The total food production (cereals and pulses) in the world increased from 920 million tons in 1961 to about 2.3 billion tons in 2000. This brought a bit of complacency from some governments; some criticisms about green revolution and concerns for the environment from social elite; move for organic foods from uninformed rich; and use of food grains for meat and fuel by the developed countries. Consequently, the food production has now become stagnant while population keeps growing and is expected to increase from the present 7 billion to about 9 billion in 2050. Can the food production be increased by 30-40% in the next 40 years just to keep the current level of consumption? The optimism comes from the past experience. The population pressure and growing need for food will push for pragmatism and innovative programs. Africa and India will use more fertilizers to bridge the yield gap, biotech interventions and improved IPM would be adopted to reduce yield losses, release and adoption of new crop varieties with super plant types would increase the yield levels, niche cropping and multiple cropping using short duration pulses would increase protein foods, economic and health considerations would reduce the use of food grains for fuel and meat, and there would be some increase in the cultivated land area in Africa and South America. The combined effect of all these measures would result in an annual increase of at least 1.2 % in food production in the coming decades to keep pace with the population growth. This is the challenge and opportunity for agricultural scientists, environmental and social groups as well as for the politicians of 21st century. This can not be missed because food is the great stabilizer of peace and civil advancements.

 

See more from this Division: ASA Section: Global Agronomy
See more from this Session: General Global Agronomy: III