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
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
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.