The United Nations’ new population growth projections show that the world is set to reach nearly 9.6 billion by 2050. This growth holds serious implications for global food security. Without effective measures to control dietary shifts and reduce food loss and waste, the world will need to produce about 70 percent more food annually by 2050 to meet global demands. That is a big task, and even harder to do without converting millions more hectares of forests into farmland, contributing to climate change.
This challenge is particularly poignant in Africa according to the United Nations. The region’s population is on course to more than double from its current 1.1 billion by 2050 and quadruple to 4.9 billion people by 2100. Yet, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than a quarter of Sub-Saharan Africa’s people are currently undernourished, and the region already imports roughly 20 percent of its staple calories. The region would need to increase crop production by 260 percent by 2050 in order to feed its projected population. Yet Africa has the world’s lowest grain yields and extensive areas of degraded soils.
One way to help meet the food challenge would be to hold down population growth. It is assumed that the region can match the rest of the world’s fertility rates through approaches that empower women, improve quality of life, and save millions of lives. The good news is that Africans and friends need to step up planning by helping through technology and funding for food.