Can we ditch intensive farming - and still feed the world?
From urban farming to drones, innovation can help fill the gap between production and consumption.
by Fiona Harvey
Food production around the world must rise by half in the next 30 years to sustain a global population expected to top 10 billion by 2050. Compared with 2010, an extra 7,400tn calories will be needed a year in 2050. If food production increases along current lines, that would require a landmass twice the area of India. These are the findings of a report published in December by the World Resources Institute on the “food gap” between current production and growing consumption.
Bringing more land under agricultural production is one answer to filling this gap, but it cannot solve the problem alone. Finding that amount of land in suitable conditions would spell the end for many of the earth’s remaining forests, peatlands and wild areas, and release the carbon stored in them, hastening climate change. Intensive farming has already had a huge effect on biodiversity and the environment worldwide. Pesticides, which have helped boost cereal and fruit production, have also killed bees and myriad species of insects in large numbers.