World Food Trends and Prospects to 2025
This paper reviews food (especially cereal) production trends and prospects for the world and its main regions. Despite fears to the contrary, in recent years we have seen continued progress toward better methods of feeding humanity. Sub-Saharan Africa is the sole major exception. Looking to the future, this paper argues that the continuation of recent cereal yield trends should be sufficient to cope with most of the demographically driven expansion of cereal demand that will occur until the year 2025. However, because of an increasing degree of mismatch between the expansion of regional demand and the potential for supply, there will be a major expansion of world cereal (and noncereal food) trade. Other consequences for global agriculture arising from demographic growth include the need to use water much more efficiently and an even greater dependence on nitrogen fertilizers (e.g., South Asia). Farming everywhere will depend more on information-intensive agricultural management procedures. Moreover, despite continued general progress, there still will be a significant number of undernourished people in 2025. Signs of heightened harvest variability, especially in North America, are of serious concern. Thus, although future general food trends are likely to be positive, in some respects
we also could be entering a more volatile world.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA
Vol. 96, pp. 5929–5936, May 1999