The book, "Who Will Feed China?: Wake-up Call for a Small Planet," authored by Lester Brown in 1995, was a surprising wake-up call about world food security.
Brown claimed that food production was not growing fast enough to feed China's increasing population, which could result in rising food prices in China and the rest of the world.
However, his claim has not been realized. As a result of advances in farming technology for the last two decades, the world has produced enough food to feed the increasing population in China and other nations, even though food shortages have been experienced on a regional basis due mainly to unfavorable weather.
Food production has increased fast enough to meet the increasing demand for food on a global scale. This is due mainly to significant increases in crop yields since 1980. From 1980 through 2011, there has been a 24.2 percent increase in corn yields, 21.8 percent in soybean yields, 22.7 percent in rice yields and a 10.5 percent increase in wheat yields.
However, how about the next 40 years? Can we produce enough food to feed the world population so the people can lead an active and healthy life? The world population is expected to grow by about 30 percent by 2050 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). The population is expected to grow from 7.2 billion in 2011 to 9.3 billion in 2050. Developing countries are projected to grow much faster than those in developed countries. In addition, the average consumption of calories or food per person is expected to increase with income growth in the future, according to the World Bank.
Calorie intake differs by region, with the highest in North America and the lowest in Africa. According to World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, there are 848 million undernourished people worldwide, with 98 percent of these people living in developing countries and 62 percent in Southern Asia or sub-Saharan Africa.
Short- and long-term food security can be measured globally and regionally.
Regional food security depends upon regional supply and demand for food and the capability of importing excess demand from surplus regions. Meanwhile, global food security depends upon aggregate supply and demand for food on a global scale. A food shortage will bring about famine and higher prices. Main demand factors are population growth and changes in per-capita income.
Supply factors are changes in arable land and crop yields that are affected by weather conditions and farming technology.