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Agrimonde Foresight. © inra

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

Agrimonde G1: changing course to move towards sustainable agriculture

From a quantitative point of view, Agrimonde focuses on two scenarios of the world in 2050. These two possible futures are illustrated by three principle parameters: apparent food availability per person, plant yield in food calories and land use. The G1 scenario takes a proactive approach and shifts toward sustainable development practices.

Updated on 04/24/2013
Published on 02/26/2013

Agrimonde G1 aims for sustainable agricultural and agri-food production systems, and explores the different ways various regions are able to make the change to such systems. In this scenario, food availability is set at 3000 kilocalories/day/person, 500 of which come from animal sources. This new standard assumes a 25% decrease in individual consumption in industrialised OECD countries, with an equal increase in sub-Saharan Africa.
In this scenario, cultivated land increases considerably – approximately 580 million hectares more over fifty years, i.e. a twofold increase from Agrimonde GO – to the almost exclusive detriment of grazing (481 million fewer hectares, a 14% decrease). Forest cover remains practically unchanged. Major shifts take place in how these lands are farmed compared to current methods and the AGO scenario.  Yields increase 1.14% per year around the world, at approximately half the rate experienced in the 1961-2000 period (2.01%).

Choosing ecological intensification

Growth in yields is due to various factors. Innovation is made using a multi-pronged approach, applied in both generic and specific ways. It incorporates local know-how and ecosystem services. Priority is given to ecological intensification technologies and practices which limit negative impact from agriculture on environmental goods: agriculture-related greenhouse gases are reduced, soil and water resources are protected, biodiversity is preserved, etc.  
The simultaneous reduction in nutritional shortages and excesses will allow demand to be met over the long term. Additionally, like in Agrimonde GO but following a different logic, food inequalities and food-related health issues will be considerably diminished. In line with the World Bank’s 2008 World Development Report, rural and agricultural development will be the leading factor in abating poverty and raising incomes in developing countries. Additionally, global policies will shift to ensure that increased food biomass production goes hand in hand with the preservation of natural resources and the environment.
Nevertheless, local agricultural production will remain insufficient to meet domestic demand in North Africa, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. The shortfall is compensated by imports from the other three zones, within the framework of secured and regulated international exchange under the aegis of the United Nations Committee on Food Security. International regulations allow for significant departures from established liberal exchange policies to take environmental risk into account and protect local agricultures, which, in the developmental stages, are less productive.