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Agrimonde Foresight. © inra

Agrimonde Foresight Study: how do we feed the world in 2050?

Updated on 04/24/2013
Published on 02/25/2013

The Agrimonde foresight study (2006-2009) delved into possible solutions for sustainably feeding nine billion people by 2050. It outlined the complex range of interactions between food security and insecurity, land and its uses, and human impact on the environment.

In 2050, some nine billion people will call our planet home. Will global agriculture be able to provide food for this many people, while also respecting the principles of sustainable development from an economic, social and environmental standpoint? In an attempt to answer this question, CIRAD (French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development) and INRA joined forces in 2006 to launch a foresight study on global food and agricultural systems and related issues for 2050. The study seeks to forecast possible outcomes based on two scenarios of intensified agriculture. Agrimonde demonstrates that both scenarios are able to meet the rising global demand for calories. However, their economic, social and environmental implications at both a local and a planetary scale are significantly different.

This research has a double objective: first, to provide France with a long-term forecasting tool for global food and agriculture, and secondly, to identify priority research issues at INRA and CIRAD, as well as at an international level. The challenge of feeding humanity requires understanding, planning and action. Furthermore, research must be fully engaged in the issues at hand.

Focus

The Agrimonde team

A PROJECT TEAM made up of scientists from INRA and CIRAD, coordinated by Bernard Hubert (GIP IFRAI): Maryse Aoudaï (INRA), Jean-Marc Chaumet (INRA), Bruno Dorin (CIRAD; Quantitative Approach Manager), Tristan Le Cotty (CIRAD), Sandrine Paillard (INRA ; Forecasting Unit Manager), Tévécia Ronzon (INRA) and Sébastien Treyer (AgroParisTech-Engref; Qualitative Analysis Manager).

A WORKING GROUP in charge of establishing scenarios and result analysis: Bernard Bachelier, Danielle Barret, Pierre-Marie Bosc, Jean-Pierre Butault, Jean-Christophe Debar, Marie de Lattre-Gasquet, Gérard Ghersi, Francis Delpeuch, Fabrice Dreyfus, Michel Griffon, Christian Hoste, Denis Lacroix, Jacques Loyat, Michel Petit and Jean-Louis Rastoin.

AN EXPERT COMMITTEE, with representatives from twenty-some institutions, consulted for advice and opinions.
Under the supervision of a STEERING COMMITTEE made up of managers from INRA and CIRAD (Patrick Caron, Catherine Esnouf, Hervé Guyomard, Bernard Hubert and Alain Weil).

Key figures

Between 1961 and 2003
• The global population grew from 3.1 to 6.3 billion.
• Farming land hectarage (1.5 billion ha in 2003) rose 13% and that of irrigated land doubled.
• The land required to feed one person was cut nearly in half, from 0.45 ha to 0.25 ha.
• The average plant yield doubled, from 8600 to 19,200 kcal/day/ha; this applies to all regions of the world, but discrepancies in yields between zones increased: differences of 1:2 in 1961 have reached 1:3.4 today.