There is less land to feed the world. Since 1961, the global area of arable land per person has halved from around 0.4 hectares to 0.2 hectares.
The key to maximising the productivity of land without depleting the latent value for future generations is innovation. Alongside innovation is the need for efficient and effective infrastructure. Poor storage and other inadequate on-farm infrastructure can lead to average post harvest losses of 15-20 per cent for cereals, and more for perishable goods such as fruit and vegetables. Meanwhile, the increasing volume of global trade is regularly challenged by hazards such as weather, security and conflict and politics.
So what are some of the options for securing future food supply?
- Precision agriculture using GPS for farm planning, field mapping, variable rate of input applications and yield mapping.
- Urban and vertical farming bringing food production closer to cities – indeed 10 per cent of global food is currently produced in urban areas.
- Should we introduce new sources of protein into our diets, which are far more efficient to produce? Ten kilograms of grain creates about 5kg of protein in the form of crickets, compared with 400g in the form of beef, 1kg of pork or 2kg of chicken. The volume of water required is significantly less too. 500ml of water produces 450g of cricket protein, compared with around 2,000 litres of water required to produce 450g of beef.
- The growth in big data will enable far greater analytics for understanding resource risk and reducing waste.
- Greater research into crop genetics and other scientific advances will help increase agricultural efficiency.
Read more: Impacts: The Future of Global Real Estate