Agricultural productivity is one of the key challenges we have chosen to currently promote as part of our Chemistry for Tomorrow's World initiatives.
Challenge: A rapidly increasing global demand for food means we have no alternative but to significantly and sustainably increase agricultural productivity to provide food, feed, fibre and fuel.
Food production will need to double by 2050 to meet the UN Millennium Development goals on hunger.1 The World Bank estimates that cereal production needs to increase by 50 per cent and meat production by 80 per cent between 2000 and 2030 to meet demand.2 Furthermore, it estimates that by 2025 one hectare of land will need to feed five people whereas in 1960 one hectare was required to feed only two people.3 This needs to be achieved in a world where suitable agricultural land is limited and climate change is predicted to have an adverse impact on food production.
To meet growing demand for food in the future, existing and new technologies, provided by the chemical sciences, must be applied across the entire food supply chain.
 Global environment outlook GE04, United Nations Environment Programme, 2007
 Food matters: Towards a strategy for the 21st Century, Cabinet Office Strategy Unit, 2008
 Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations Statistics, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2004
We have subdivided agricultural productivity into 6 categories:
Minimising inputs and maximising outputs through agronomic practice.
Technologies are needed to counter the significant environmental impact and waste associated with rearing livestock.
The development of new crop protection strategies is essential.
Improving the efficiency of nutrient uptake and utilisation in plants is a major challenge.
Understanding soil structure and science is important to ensure high productivity.
Maintaining an adequate, quality water supply is essential for agricultural productivity.
Contact and Further Information
Royal Society of Chemistry, Thomas Graham House, Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 0WF
Tel: +44 01223 432189