Potential and attainable food production and food security in different regions.

F.W.T. Penning de Vries, R. Rabbinge, J.J.R. Groot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Growing prosperity in the South is accompanied by human diets that will claim more natural resources per capita. This reality, combined with growing populations, may raise the global demand for food crops two- to four-fold within two generations. Considering the large volume of natural resources and potential crop yields, it seems that this demand can be met smoothly. However, this is a fallacy for the following reasons. (i) Geographic regions differ widely in their potential food security: policy choices for agricultural use of natural resources are limited in Asia. For example, to ensure national self-sufficiency and food security, most of the suitable land (China) and nearly all of the surface water (India) are needed. Degradation restricts options further. (ii) The attainable level of agricultural production depends also on socio-economic conditions. Extensive poverty keeps the attainable food production too low to achieve food security, even when the yield gap is wide, as in Africa. (iii) Bio-energy, non-food crops and nature compete with food crops for natural resources. Global and regional food security are attainable, but only with major efforts. Strategies to achieve alternative aims will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-928
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Series B, Biological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1997

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