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Agrimonde Foresight. © inra

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

Quantitative and qualitative forecasting

Agrimonde is a platform for forecasting global food and agricultural issues for 2050 using quantitative and qualitative analyses according to two scenarios.

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

Agrimonde relies on a group of experts to construct two future scenarios for sustainable global food security. There are numerous variables to consider: geopolitical, economic, public health, technological, agricultural, the list goes on. Existing scenario construction methods had to be adapted by developing a platform that takes into consideration both quantitative and qualitative analyses (see inset).

Formulating sets of quantitative hypotheses on a regional level for a restricted number of variables simplified the process and provided a starting point for qualitative analysis for the entire system. They were structured based on a morphological analysis of the global agricultural and food system. The results highlight the systemic nature of agriculture and food systems around the world, an important factor in testing the coherence of the scenarios.

A three-step process

Step 1: The working group established the basic principles of each scenario and created quantitative hypotheses to be input into the Agribiom tool. The timeline and geographical delineations were set at this stage.
Step 2: Agribiom was used to quantify the food biomass resources and uses on the chosen geographical scale, as well as worldwide. This step made it possible to assess the food situation (surpluses or shortages) of each region analysed. It could also be determined if the resources were sufficient to meet global demand (and adjust hypotheses if necessary).
Step 3: The quantitative scenarios established during the first two steps were analysed and completed by the working group and the expert committee using complementary qualitative hypotheses.

This step had a threefold aim:
- First, to test coherency based on two main criteria in line with the fundamental principles of the scenarios and in terms of qualitative hypotheses to ensure consistency.

- Second, to compare the two quantitative scenarios with a double objective: draw lessons to be learned to describe the contrasting possibilities and formulate qualitative hypotheses so that the scenarios correspond to separate paths.

- Finally, to identify the stakes and drivers of change accompanied by the formulation of qualitative hypotheses to integrate those drivers into the quantitative scenarios.

This qualitative analysis could lead to changing certain quantitative hypotheses in the first step and making adjustments in Agribiom regarding food biomass resources and uses.
The complete scenarios obtained through the computer program could then be described, analysed and debated (from hypotheses to lessons learned).

Agribiom: the quantitative tool

The quantitative tool Agribiom makes it possible to create reports of different geographical zones (countries, groups of countries, the world) expressed in kilocalories for food biomass resources and uses. These reports could show historical information or future projections. Agribiom’s major strengths lie in its exhaustiveness (nearly all countries and products are included), ease of use, and interactivity (for instance, if a user modifies the yield of one hypothesis, the results are immediately updated). Agribiom can be used to characterise the final outcome for a given scenario’s timeline. It can also assess how sensitive the outcome is to such-and-such a hypothesis, measure the effects different drivers can have on reducing the caloric deficit of a certain zone, etc.