World Food Week

Invest now for food security in 2050

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food security Food and agriculture organization

The West may be grappling with recession, but now is the time for businesses and governments to invest in agriculture and processing facilities around the world to stave off a massive food security problem by 2050, says the FAO.

The central theme of this year’s World Food Day on Friday 16th October, and the week leading up to it, is ‘Achieving Food Security in Times of Crisis’. And while food businesses are notching up the effects of the crisis on their own bottom lines, the effects are being felt most in developing countries.

At the same time, emerging and developing economies, such as parts of Asia and Africa, are showing the most positive growth for many international food businesses, while the US and Western Europe have stayed flat or declined in the recession. As more people earn a good income, they may aspire to more protein-rich diets featuring dairy and meat products, and adopt Westernised eating habits.

But the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization points out that affluent people are not the ones most at thread of food insecurity.

“At a time when the global economic crisis dominates the news, the world needs to be reminded that not everyone works in offices and factories,”​ the FAO says. “The crisis is stalking the small-scale farms and rural areas of the world, where 70 per cent of the world’s hungry live and work.

It says that private and public partnerships are needed – and targeted public investment can encourage and facilitate private investment.

“Crisis or no crisis, we have the know-how to do something about hunger. We also have the ability to find money to solve problems when we consider them important.”

With the world’s population expected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050, $83 billion in investment a year is needed to ensure there is enough food for all – double the present level, according to a report published on Friday in advance of a high level experts forum taking place in Rome, How to Feed the World in 2050.

It is expected that most of the investment would come from private investors, including farmers buying implements and machinery – and businesses buying processing facilities.

It says that some $20 billion needs to go to crop production, and $13 billion to livestock production. “Mechanization would account for the single biggest investment area, followed by expansion and improvement of irrigation.”

In addition, $50 billion would be needed to expand downstream services.

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