World Bank Report: The World Can Feed Its People

Population Research Institute
Steven W. Mosher
Reproduced with permission

A remarkable report, The World Food Output, issued in November 1993 by the World Bank, documents with numerous charts, diagrams and statistical tables the fact that world food production has been steadily increasing for years and at a rate greater than that of the growth in population. Indeed, the greatest increases have occurred in recent years and there is every indication that this trend will continue into the foreseeable future.

In an Executive Summary accompanying the main report, author Donald O. Mitchell, a senior economist at the World Bank, summed up the situation:

Since Malthus wrote his essay oil population in 1798, many have been concerned that with growing population the world would be less and less able to feed itself: This hasn't occurred, but modern-day Malthusians warn that Malthus will ultimately be right. The evidence to support this view is scant but the arguments are compelling: population keeps expanding; no new land is being created; crop yields have increased considerably and may have peaked; and the environment may not tolerate the pressure of more intensive agriculture. Yet the evidence to the contrary is also compelling: prices of agricultural commodities are at their lowest level in history; crop yields continue to rise faster than population; and world cereals yields grew more rapidly during the 1980s than during the 1960s or the 1970s.
Despite the concerns expressed, the food situation has improved dramatically for most of the world's consumers. World output of cereals, the main food source for most consumers, has increased by 2.7 percent per annum since 1950 while population has grown by about 1.9 percent per annum. Cereal yields alone have increased more rapidly than world population since 1950 at 2.24 percent per annum. This has allowed per capita calorie consumption in developing countries to increase by about 27 percent since the early 1960s.
These gains offer the hope that access to food will cease to be a problem for most of the world's consumers.

Among the facts documented in the report were:


nov 31/Jul/00