ABSTRACT

World population has risen at a rate of 1.9% per year since 1960, but food production has grown at 2.8% per year due to the application of better crop production techniques. Most of the future population growth will occur in developing countries, those with limited ability to feed their growing populations or import food. Fertilizer use to increase production and maintain soil fertility has been essential to increasing food production, and will be essential in the future. World food grain reserves in 1996 were at their lowest levels since the early 1970s, and the rate of increase of food production has slowed. By the year 2020, the population is expected to be 8 billion people. To feed this population, the food grain production will have to increase from the current level of about 2 billion tonnes per year to over 3 billion tonnes. To achieve this level of crop output, intensification of the output on existing land must account for most of the growth, and the amount of fertilizer use will need to increase from 123 million tonnes of nutrients in 1994/95 to over 300 million tonnes in 2020. This requires substantial increase in fertilizer production capacity, which will only occur if relatively stable agricultural markets are established in the countries with expanding populations. The situation in Africa is particularly difficult, with poor input and output markets, declining yield levels due to the lack of nutrients, and continued population growth; there are few indications that fertilizer use will soon increase to reduce the rate of soil degradation and to produce the needed food. [Article copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1–800–342–9678. E-mail address: [email protected]]