The ‘food plague’ is threatening to become a global problem, as crops, livestock and other crops are failing to cope with climate change.
But with the world’s food production already forecast to peak at about 7 billion tonnes in 2050, some scientists say the global food supply will only increase by a further 20 per cent over the next century.
The world is in a position to produce around seven billion tonnes of food in 2050 with an increase of only 4 per cent on current levels, the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a report released on Wednesday.
The increase in demand for food, coupled with climate trends, has led to a food supply surplus that has seen farmers struggle to maintain crops, feed livestock and increase yields.
The WFP has said that global food production could be limited by 2080 if current trends continue.
The report by the WFP and the Global Food Security Network (GFSN), an international alliance of non-governmental organisations, said that over the past decade the global supply of food has been falling, with production from maize, rice and wheat in Africa, India, Brazil, Indonesia and China falling by between a third and a half.
It also said that this could mean the world could not meet its current dietary needs.
The global food demand for 2050 is forecast to rise to more than 7 billion metric tonnes.
This will represent almost 20 per to 25 per cent of the world food supply.
This means that the world is already oversupplied in food supply, the report said.WFP said that the shortfall is largely due to a decrease in yields from crops, particularly maize, which has been hit by drought and crop pests.
It said that maize yields have fallen from an average of 1.3 tonnes per hectare (6,500 acres) per year in 2000 to about 1.2 tonnes per year now.
Worm resistant varieties of maize are being developed to help the food production sector, but these are not enough to meet demand.
Wider-scale, more effective solutions are needed, the WDP said.
The ‘food scourge’ will likely hit countries where food production is the highest and where the most food is consumed, WFP said.
However, it said the food supply could increase further, especially in developing countries, where many people are unable to afford the cost of a decent diet.
In the United States, the shortfall in food is forecast at between a quarter and a third of current production, according to the WFSN.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is set to release a report this week which predicts the world will require another 7 billion tons of food by 2050, with a shortfall of 6 per cent.
This is compared to an average demand of 7.8 billion tonnes for the year 2020 and a projected shortfall of 2.5 per cent in 2050.
“The global hunger crisis is reaching a tipping point and we must not allow it to happen again,” said WFP Deputy Director of Government Relations Noreen Cote in a statement.
“It’s not only our communities who are being hit by hunger, it’s our food security.
It’s about time the global community began to confront this food crisis head-on and help the world meet its needs for food.”