We’ve all heard about the need to meet the food demands of a global population that will grow by another two billion by 2050.

Agriculture is up for the task of doubling the food supply by mid-century, but this issue goes beyond growing more food.

Philippe de Laperouse, managing director of HighQuest Partners, an agribusiness strategic consulting firm, said during the recent Oilseed and Grain Trade Summit there are other factors the come into play as the population grows. Those factors included:

* Growing urbanization of the global population, which is putting pressure on available arable land for crop production and increasing reliance on processed foods;

* Fast-growing middle classes in developing markets, which are shifting from grain to protein-based diets; and

* Constraints on the supply of crops due to competition for water with other uses, climate change and a slowdown in yield increases of the major crops.

Laperouse also pointed to the linkage of the agricultural sector to the energy markets due to biofuel policies implemented in major markets around the world.

Additionally noted was the lack of human capital needed to support a growing agricultural sector as a result of generational transfer in both developed and developing markets, and inadequate capacity building in developing markets.

Thomas Mielke, editor of Oil World, echoed these concerns over the challenges of being able to meet future demand for food crops, noting that agricultural land has become a limiting factor worldwide with land values having more than doubled within the past six years.

While predicting a bearish outlook for 2014, Mielke said, “While underlying market demand for oilseeds and meals is strong in the near-term, we need to focus more on higher yields and global solutions to the volume and logistics problems the industry is facing.”

The big question is: Can we meet these demands with less arable land, possible limits on water — either through nature or manmade restrictions — with government restrictions here and abroad and bottlenecks in the current logistics system? It’s going to take a team effort, but it can be done because we have no other choice.