No food shortage

10 January 1997

No food shortage

SCAREMONGERS who say that the world will not be able to feed its growing population are wrong, Prof Tim Dyson of the London School of Economics told the conference.

The global population was predicted to rise from the current 5.29bn to 7.89bn by 2020; a 49% increase. To meet food demands the world cereal harvest would have to rise to 2.96bn tonnes by 2020; a 38% increase on current production. Prof Dyson said the growth in cereals production was lower than the predicted population increase because almost all the future population growth would be in developing countries, where cereal consumption was comparatively low.

While he believed that farmers would meet the challenge, most of the extra cereal production would come from the continued increased in yields rather than a rise in the area of crops grown.

And that would mean doubling the worldwide use of nitrogen fertilisers, Prof Dyson said.

Most of that would be used in the developing countries. "In Asia and the Indian sub-continent they are using only about 70kg of fertiliser per hectare per year and we know they will increase that. The Chinese have already doubled their use of nitrogen between 1980 and 1990," he added.

Tim Dyson:Nitrogen fertiliser would boost food supplies.

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