How will the planet manage to feed the nine billion inhabitants it could well have in 2050? This question on the future of food and agriculture is currently central to many debates. To meet the growing demand for food, a 70% increase in agricultural production is needed by 2050, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This troubling prospect is presented as the most probable scenario today, a fact lamented here by Sandrine Paillard and Sébastien Treyer.
“By 2050 radical changes are possible and levers exist to act on both production and consumption, giving reason to reflect on a set of contrasting scenarios”, note the authors, before describing two scenarios developed within the framework of the Agrimonde exercise carried out by the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and the Centre for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD). These are studies concerned to “bring out contrasting developmental trajectories of the global agricultural and food systems as transparently as possible”.
After the presentation of the methodology and main conclusions of the Agrimonde study — global food production sufficient to cover forecast consumption levels, an increase in the minimum necessary volume of trade between world regions — Paillard and Treyer mention the positive impact of Agrimonde on the current debate and stress the importance of pursuing such foresight exploration.