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November 20, 2013 12:02 am

Agricultural output keeps pace with needs of growing population

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Fears about whether the world will produce enough to feed its growing population date back centuries. This interactive chart looks back over the past 50 years, from 1960-2010.

Projections from international organisations show that the world’s population will increase from 7bn currently to 9bn by 2050, posing a challenge for the food industry.

Drag the slider to see the change in population and agricultural output over various decades.

The big picture is that the global population has been increasing at double digit rates but the rate of increase has been slowing.

Agricultural production has increased every decade – from 3.3bn tonnes in 1970 to 7.8bn in 2010. Food supply – in terms of grammes per capita per day – increased by 27 per cent over the same period.

Yet, the amount of land used for agriculture has remained remarkably stable over the past 50 years, varying between 36-39 per cent of the total. If the past is any indicator of future performance, that is a reason to be hopeful.

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