What We're Reading
Going local? Two recent publications come to radically different conclusions about local food production for local needs. The first one (Bello 2020) is a passionate plea for food sovereignty – moving away from global food supply chains to local, small-scale production in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. The second paper (Kinnunen et al. 2020) models the numbers and concludes that “local food crop production can fulfil demand for less than one third of the global population… Although yield gap closure and food loss reductions could favour more local food systems, particularly in Africa and Asia, global supply chains would still be needed to ensure an adequate and stable food supply”.
What are the global priorities for agriculture R&D? A new paper by Cassman and Grassini (2020) argues that the looming global food shortage and the long timeline needed for most R&D means that global research priorities must be set "with a ruthless focus on the dual objectives of achieving large increases in yields on existing farmland coupled with substantial improvement in environmental performance". They discuss different scenarios, assumptions and objectives and state that "As we see it, the most likely scenario is that the global food system in 2050 becomes increasingly globalized and trade-dependent due to the demographic weight of urbanization, which is expected to rise from 55% of global population today to nearly 70% by 2050".