‘Almost three billion will go hungry by 2050’

Need to know: The bar chart (left) shows how much populations grew between 2000 and 2018.

Can we feed everyone? Tomorrow is World Food Day. We already make enough for 10 billion people, and yet one in nine humans does not have enough food. How did that happen?

Thirty years from now, there will be 9.7 billion people on Earth. Almost three billion of them will not have enough food.

The solution might seem simple: grow more. But that alone won’t be enough.

We already produce enough food for 10 billion people. But across the world, more than one in nine people are chronically hungry.

Why? There are two main reasons. First, roughly 30 to 40% of all food is wasted, often because developing countries struggle to keep food cold.

And the global population is growing fastest in areas where food is already scarce. While numbers start to stagnate or even decline in developed nations, high birth rates mean that one billion more people will live in sub-Saharan Africa by 2050.

Second, only 55% of crop calories go to feed people directly. The rest is grain for cattle and chickens.

The climate crisis will make things worse. Agriculture accounts for about 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which are fast heating the planet.

Droughts and floods, crop failures, soil erosion… The effects are already being felt. The worst affected will be in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.

Can we feed everyone?

Waste not, want not

It’s going to be tough. We must get everyone — India and China, as much as the West — to stop eating meat. We must build a huge “cold train” network in developing countries to keep food cold (which will be expensive and produce more carbon dioxide), all while reducing emissions to halt the climate crisis.

But tech is already being used to make more ‘green’ food. India, for example, is investing in methods that will lead to less food waste. It will be a huge project requiring much investment and the reimagining of the food industry, but we have all the tools to feed everyone.

You Decide

  1. Is it wrong to eat meat?

Activities

  1. Imagine that you are a leader of one of the most powerful countries on Earth. Write down the five main issues your government would focus on.

Some People Say...

“A hungry man is not a free man.”

Adlai E. Stevenson (1900-1965), US politician

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Over 820 million people are going hungry, which amounts to one in every nine. In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight. Of these, over 650 million adults were obese.
What do we not know?
Whether agriculture will ever be able to be environmentally sustainable while providing all the food we need to feed the planet.

Word Watch

Chronically
When something happens negatively for a long time.
Stagnate
Stop growing.
Decline
Become smaller; decrease.
Agriculture
Farming crops or animals.
Soil erosion
When soil washes or wears away. This is a problem for farmers because erosion takes away the nutrients in the soil that plants need to grow.
Sub-Saharan
African countries located south of the Sahara desert.

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.