On November 15, the world’s population reached eight billion people.
Thanks to doomsday prognosticators, the idea of more people is a bad thing. But it’s actually an incredible marketing opportunity for today’s farmers. Advances in agriculture are making it possible. In fact, advances are so amazing that feeding 10 billion people won’t be a problem. For its part, Canada has capitalized on new technology in a big way and is increasing agricultural exports each year.
“Are we producing enough to feed eight, nine or even 10 billion people on earth? The answer is yes,” says Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “The sectors are adapting, and developing new technologies at an astonishing pace. Many underestimate the ability of agri-food stakeholders, from farm to consumer, to adjust.”
Production is not the problem. Bad management and corruption are. Notes Charlebois: “While our planet produces enough food to feed the more than eight billion people who inhabit it, systemic inequalities and economic disparities have led to unbalanced distribution and irregular access to agri-food commodities.
“Corruption, pandemics, poverty, lack of infrastructure, and of course geopolitical conflicts, as we have seen this year with Ukraine and Russia – these factors often undermine our global food security.”
People are amazing at adapting, innovating and inventing but there are always bad apples who ruin a good thing.
Speaking of population growth, it might only be on the horizon for so long but long enough for the next generation of farmers to live in a time of increasing demand for food. Some see a reversal in the world’s population by 2050. The United Nations sees a possible reversal by 2100.
Surprisingly, current population growth is no longer fueled by women having children but by people living longer thanks to advances in health care. The Western world is, in fact, not having enough babies. China, Japan and Russia are already in population decline. Other Western World countries mask population implosion with immigration. Canadians are also not having enough babies to grow the population, so Canada has thrown open the borders to immigration — recently announcing a goal of 500,000 new immigrants each year.
While that ensures population gain for the near future, there is still a chorus of views that suggest we could one day be lamenting that while we have enough food we are actually running out of people.
Patrick Meagher is editor of Farmers Forum and can be reached at email@example.com