According to a study produced by the Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment (IonE), global production of food crops is not increasing quickly enough to meet the world’s projected needs in 2050. Previous studies have indicated that global food production will need to rise by between 60 and 110 percent by 2050 to meet global demand. However, according to the University of Minnesota study released today, yields of four key crops – maize (corn), rice, wheat, and soybeans – are not increasing quickly enough to meet this projected demanded.
The study, published in PLOS ONE, shows that global production of these four crops is increasing by just 0.9 to 1.6 percent each year. If this trend continues, their production will be up by between 38 and 67 percent by 2050, suggesting a “looming agricultural crisis,” according to study co-author and IonE director Jon Foley.
The study used data from thousands of agricultural censuses around the world to map crop production trends by country. In addition to analyzing overall global production trends, it indicates which countries in particular need to improve agricultural yield. The study suggests that, in order for global food production and demand to more closely line up, food waste reduction and more people switching to plant-based diets are two strategies that can accompany crop yield increases.