An alarming study shows that we may not be able to grow enough food for the population in 2050. The article, recently published in the journal PLOS ONE, looks at the trajectory of the farming output around the world and concludes that if we continue in the same path, there will not be enough food grown to feed the world's population in 2050.
In the article, "Yield Trends Are Insufficient to Double Global Crop Production by 2050," its authors acknowledge that "crop demand may increase by 100-110 percent between 2005 and 2050," meaning the world would need to produce roughly double the crops it produces today to keep up with the increasing population, the increasing meat and dairy consumption and the increasing biofuel consumption.
According to the report, the way to sustainably grow more crops would be to increase crop yield rather than to increase farm land. While crop yields do continue to grow in certain locales, "yields are no longer improving on 24-39 percent of our most important cropland areas." In fact, while crop yield in the Midwestern United States have been increasing by two percent a year, crop yields in in parts of India and Eastern Europe have been static, according to an article from the Washington Post.
In comparing our capacity to increase crop yields, based on historical performance, and our future needs, the outlook looks dire. The study found that, the average rate of crop yield increase around the world is 1.2 percent per year (when looking at the world's top crops: maize, rice, wheat and soybeans). Meanwhile, the world would need to increase its rate of crop yield increase per year by 2.4 percent to fulfill our doubled needs in 2050.
These findings are highlighted in the graph above. The dotted lines denote where we will need crop yield to be in the years leading up to 2050, in order to fulfill demand, and the solid lines show where we will actually be in terms of yield if we continue on our current path.
As frightening as this graph is, what is even scarier is the fact that there are still many other factors that may pull the actual crop yields down in the year's leading up to 2050. Climate change could cause increased temperatures and droughts, stifling the ability to increase crop yields and other environmental issues such as declining bee populations could limit our ability to reach even the yield levels of the solid lines in the graph.
check out the slideshow below to find out which crops are in danger of disappearing.