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7 billion and rising: can the world feed itself?


By dxw

As the world’s population reaches 7 billion can the world feed itself? We have been discussing this question through its series of conferences on Global Food, Agriculture and Land Use.


Global land use: policies for the future

26-28 September 2011 (WP1116)

This highlights the challenges of balancing competition for land between food, animal feed and industrial use such as biofuels. It is estimated that a further 81-140 hectares of arable land will be needed globally for food production alone. Is this available? And yet 70% of the world’s land is only a quarter to one third as productive as it could be and increased productivity has to be sought. Better management of soils and balancing ecosystems services were outlined as key components of improved land management. Niger’s increased forestation, Cuba’s use of research, China’s drive for self-sufficiency, Brazil’s use of agro-ecological zoning and Rwanda’s new land registration systems were all highlighted as different ways of maximising production. The report also explores the on-going discussion on the use of genetic modification to increase production and other scientific advances such as the use of hydroponics in Saudi Arabia, and the international rules necessary on investment in land.

A podcast on Global land issues was recorded with Carlos Santana, Michael Winter and Bob Winterbottom discussing some of these issues.

Earlier in the year we focused on policy options in response to increased volatility, in our meeting on global food and agriculture meeting.

The volatility of food and commodity prices is likely to increase in the coming years due to pressures on world resources and more frequent extreme weather events. This meeting considered policy options in response to increased volatility, the repercussions of which are experienced most acutely in low-income countries. Issues discussed include the roles and effects of speculation, stocks, export restrictions, global markets, trade and governance, farm policies, biofuels, and how to determine who is particularly vulnerable to food price spikes, and how best to assist them.

Further information

Conference on Global land use: policies for the future

Podcast on Global land use 

Conference on Global food and agriculture: policy options in response to increased volatility