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Meeting food and energy demands by mid-century will be a challenge, says report

Meeting food and energy demands in a world where human population is expected to reach 9 billion by mid-century will require a range of approaches that increase the sustainability of agricultural production, reports a new assessment from Deutsche Bank’s Climate Change Advisors (DBCCA).

The report, titled “Investing in Agriculture: Far-Reaching Challenge, Significant Opportunity: An Asset Management Perspective”, analyzes production trends, land use change and effectiveness, policy trends, and environmental constraints including resource use and the impact of climate change. The report concludes that a portfolio of solutions is needed to meet challenge of boosting global agricultural productivity.

Rice field and coconut groves in Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.

“Meeting the challenge of feeding and fuelling a growing population in a world facing climate change requires boosting yields through sophisticated land management with mechanization, precision irrigation and fertilization methods,” said Dr. Bruce M. Kahn, Senior Investment Analyst. “However, this alone may be insufficient and farmers, markets and governments will have to consider other alternatives including more substantive land use changes and the potential benefits of biotech crops. While the challenges in developing biotech crops require substantial research and development, and a robust regulatory environment, they offer the potential to substantially reduce water and fertilizer inputs and increase productivity.”

DBCCA was advised by scientists at Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a leading land use research institute.

“It is important to note that there is no silver bullet to increasing global agricultural production, only silver buckshot where a diverse mix of management, technology and foresight are applied to solve one of the greatest challenges we face in the next century,” said David Zaks, a researcher at SAGE. “If we are to manage global agriculture sustainably, we need tools and data to make informed decisions, such as geographic information systems, satellite imagery and on-the ground production data.”

Investing in Agriculture: Far-Reaching Challenge, Significant Opportunity (PDF)

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