By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tA sobering wake-up call about global hunger was heard Monday afternoon in the Synod for Africa, delivered by a special guest invited to address the gathering: Senegalese diplomat Jacques Diouf, director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which is based in Rome.
tDiouf broke away to address the synod from an Oct. 12-13 FAO summit titled, “How to Feed the World in 2050.”
World population is projected to rise to 9.1 billion in 2050 from a current 6.7 billion, Diouf said during the FAO summit, requiring a 70-percent increase in farm production. Increases, he said, would need to come mostly from yield growth and improved cropping intensity rather than from farming more land. Urbanization, desertification, the ever-greater share of land devoted to biofuels and global climate change, Diouf said, all make opening up new cropland increasingly difficult.
Without such significant increases in productivity, he warned, a rising population will find itself staring at an “empty cupboard," with significant increases in global hunger and malnutrition.