Nacikgoz

A recent article (literature) mentions that by 2050, the per capita daily calorie consumption will increase 11% as a result of increased wealth. Also per capita food consumption of some food categories might increase dramatically: 14% for sugar, 15% for legumes, 33% for vegetable oil, and 26% for meat, % 19 for milk and dairy products. On the other hand no such increase is expected for cereals. National and international

researchers as well as investment strategists are surely starting to warn policy makers of these changes. The article also draws attention to the disorganized structure of the agricultural research institutions and recommends the collection of these institutions under one umbrella.

How were we able to feed the doubled world population from 1960 to 2010, despite no major changes incultivated agricultural land? Above graphic explains the phenomena (Graphic): Improved crop varieties with agronomic innovations performed three to four folds in every corner of the world. This is a result of increased agricultural research and development investments of the public and the private sector.

Can we apply the same successful efforts to meet the 70%[1] increase in food production that will be needed in the 2050s? According to a report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) report, we can. Research suggests that we can produce more than expected consumption if we sophisticated research and development studies in all agricultural ecologies and ensure the results are leveraged by farmers. There are a number of ways to expand the agricultural production facilities:

  1. 1. Increased productivity by investment in R&D. Breeding new crop varieties which are adaptable to every existing ecology and various conditions with heat, drought, biotic (disease-pests) and abiotic (salinity, heat, cold, drought etc.) resistance, improving effective use of nitrogen varieties;
  2. 2. Application of research results to every agronomic production option, such as no-till, precision agriculture and second crop application which would aim to ensure the efficient use of existing or possible resources conducted for every production area;
  3. 3. Increased investment in irrigation techniques, including water conservation, the most effective way to use limited water resources to determine the systems, like drip and sprinkler irrigation.

A simulation study has been conducted using these techniques for the three basic crops (corn, rice and wheat) and some of the results are summarized below (table).

Technologies Corn(%) Rice (%) Wheat (%)
Nitrogen-efficient varieties 11 20 6
No-till 16 16
Heat-tolerant varieties 16 3 9
Precision agriculture 4 9 10

Simply using nitrogen-efficient varieties might increase rice yield 20%. Heat-tolerant varieties boost corn yield %16 adding other alternatives like new genotypes that are resistant to diseases and pests can help achieve the 70% increase needed.

A number of the mentioned technologies have already been implemented. For example Argentina gets second crop (soybean after wheat) in its cropland over million hectares by using the “no-till” method in conjunction with biotech varieties, Such applications are need heavy R&D in every soil. Their significance stands out especially due to climate changes. However the very first thing needed is public (and political) awareness of an effective agricultural system. Unfortunately not all countries unite their manpower and financial infrastructure together like the BRIC[2] countries. Brazil has already established its EMPRAPA (Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research) for all future national research activities by bringing together their federal and state experiment stations, including universities; Brazil is now the second country after the USA in agricultural biotechnology. India’s recently established ICAR (The Indian Council of Agricultural Research) with 99 institutes, 69 Agricultural Universities and 636 experiment stations is one of the largest national agricultural research systems in the world (Literature). Here are too many other countries following suit!

Nazimi Acıkgoz


[1] consumer demand will be for meat %80, for grain % 52

[2] Bric countries and biotechnology, http://blog.milliyet.com.tr/bric-ulkeleri-ve-biyoteknoloji/Blog/?BlogNo=367719

 

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