Can we meet the challenge of feeding the world’s growing population? How does this challenge relate to industrial agriculture, science and technology, and sustainability? Osler Desouzart of OD Consulting raised these questions and more during the poultry breakout session at Alltech’s recent symposium. In his presentation, Desouzart provided facts about food consumption and emphasized the need for a “new silent green revolution.”
Desouzarts facts regarding the world’s changing population and food consumption included:
- Even though the rate of growth is declining, world population continues to grow.
- Over 89 percent of the world’s population growth from 2010 to 2050 will be in Asia and Africa.
- Though food availability continues to expand, food is not equally distributed. Food consumption is estimated to increase from 2789 kcal/person/day in 1999-2001 to 3130 kcal/person/day in 2050. Nonetheless, 25,000 people die each day of starvation.
- As income increases, animal product consumption increases. In 1961, the world’s GDP per capita was $451 and meat consumption was 23.03 kg/capita/year. In 2010, the world’s GDP per capita was $9,197 and meat consumption was 41.9 kg/capita/year.
- Production of animal products requires more natural resources than vegetable products. More than 15,000 L of water/kg beef and more than 5,906 L of water/kg pork are required for production of these products. Less than 3,000 L of water/kg product are required to product rice, wheat, maize, potatoes, and soybeans.
- Asia and Africa will have 78.9 percent of the world’s population in 2050, but they have merely 36 percent of the world’s fresh water.
In light of these facts, Desouzart suggested a “new silent green revolution” must take place in order to feed the world with the limited resources of water and land that are available. Industrial agriculture and sustainability are not mutually exclusive, but it is important to remember that sustainability includes social value, economic value, and environmental value. Desouzart also emphasized the role of science and technology in this “new green revolution,” saying productivity must be enhanced by 70 percent in order to feed the growing population.