How to Feed the World in 2050

©FAO/Marco Longari

The prospects for agriculture

In the first half of this century, as the world’s population grows to around 9 billion, global demand for food, feed and fibre will nearly double while, increasingly, crops may also be used for bioenergy and other industrial purposes. New and traditional demand for agricultural produce will thus put growing pressure on already scarce agricultural resources. And while agriculture will be forced to compete for land and water with sprawling urban settlements, it will also be required to serve on other major fronts: adapting to and contributing to the mitigation of climate change, helping preserve natural habitats, protecting endangered species and maintaining a high level of biodiversity. As though this were not challenging enough, in most regions fewer people will be living in rural areas and even fewer will be farmers. They will need new technologies to grow more from less land, with fewer hands.

The problems to be resolved

  • Will we be able to produce enough food at affordable prices or will rising food prices drive more of the world's population into poverty and hunger?
  • How much spare capacity in terms of land and water do we have to feed the world in 2050?
  • What are the new technologies that can help us use scarce resources more efficiently, increase and stabilize crop and livestock yields?
  • Are we investing enough in research and development for breakthroughs to be available in time?
  • Will new technologies be available to the people who will need them most - the poor?
  • How much do we need to invest in order to help agriculture adapt to climate change, and how much can agriculture contribute to mitigating extreme weather events?


On horizon 2050 - billions needed for agriculture

Net investments of US$83 billion a year must be made in agriculture in developing countries if there is to be enough food for 9.1 billion people in 2050

Climate change will worsen the plight of the poor

Future of agriculture and food security closely linked to climate change

Africa’s food challenge

Prospects good, resources abundant, policy must improve

Increased investment in agricultural research essential

Producing more food will largely depend on increasing crop yields, not farming more land

A third more mouths to feed

Food production will have to increase by 70 percent

The path to the Summit

Three important events have prepared the ground for the Summit:

The High-Level Expert Forum on How to Feed the World in 2050 examined policy options that governments should consider adopting to ensure that the world population can be fed when it nears its peak of nearly 9.2 billion people in the middle of this century.

The Committee on World Food Security considered reforms that will enable it to play a much more effective role in the global governance of food security.

The theme of World Food Day this year is how to ensure food security in times of crisis.