Outlook of Global and Regional Food Security, and Its Impact to Japan
The world population is projected to increase from the present level of 7.1 billion to over 9 billion by
2050. Thus, more food is needed to feed the rapidly growing world population, especially for the next 30-
40 years towards 2050. Another challenge is a rapid increase in per capita food consumption which is
predicted to exceed 3,000 kcal per day per capita by 2050 from that of 2,770 kcal in 2005/07 reflecting
increased number of people in middle income countries who would consume more food, especially meat,
milk, eggs, fish, etc. On the other hand, rapid urbanization is taking place. It is estimated that nearly 65-
70% of the total population would live in cities in 2050.
Overall, world agricultural production would need to increase by 60% (or 77% for developing countries
alone) between 2005/07 and 2050 to meet the needs of the growing population. FAO’s baseline projections
to 2050 indicate that it should be possible to meet this target, if we would be able to advance agricultural
research and succeed in yield increase.
However, there are several serious constrains and challenges, such as the stagnation of expansion of
arable lands, increasing scarcity of water resources, decline of agricultural productivity growth affected
by lack of investment in agriculture in recent decades, high food losses and waste, and various uncertainties
including future crude oil prices, negative impact of climate changes and natural disasters, and rapid
expansion of bio-energy crops which would compete the use of lands and water with food crops.
We are yet not fully sure if we can overcome these constraints to achieve the goal, as many of which
are unpredictable. What will happen if the world is unable to meet the production target, and if there is a
food shortage in the future? We anticipate that the export ban of food by food exporting countries to
protect their own consumers might happen as witnessed previously, which would result in great
uncertainties and food insecurity for food importing countries. The situation would likely cause food price
crisis, negative impact to the poor consumers, and might lead to social unrest and political instability in
vulnerable countries as already seen in recent past. Japan may not be an exception.
In order to prevent or minimize such negative consequences, it would be necessary to prepare for
potential food crisis and identify measures to prevent risks, particularly for food importing countries.
As a first step, a clear agricultural policy and food security policy and strategy should be formulated
and implemented through multi-disciplinary and inter-ministerial coordination and public-private sector
partnership. More specifically, it is suggested that domestic food production should be maximized on
sustainable manner to reduce import dependence through protecting agricultural lands, encouraging
farmers to grow more food with quality and safety, promoting soil fertility and water saving technology,
promoting climate change adaptation and mitigation technology, accelerating the benefit of research on
the 2nd and 3rd generation of bio-fuel, reducing post-harvest losses and waste, promoting agro-processing
and value additions, expanding value chains and markets, promoting sustainable agricultural mechanization,
attracting young generations to become farm successors, and advancing agricultural research, productivity
growth and bio-technology including vertical farming, plant factory, urban/peri-urban agriculture and
other innovative technologies. These initiatives mean not only a more stable domestic food supply, but
also fresher, safer and more nutritious food.
On the other hand, it is suggested that the role of food processing industry be enhanced towards the
manufacturing of safe and quality processed foods using raw materials imported or locally produced for
export market or domestic market, which would eventually enhance national food security and facilitate
narrowing food trade balance.
Of course, such domestic food strategies have obvious limitations, and food importing countries such
as Japan will never be self-sufficient in food. Therefore, promoting technical cooperation with food
exporting developing countries, especially those in Southeast Asia, would increase political, economic and psychological ties and mutual trust, and would facilitate securing long-term stable food import from
One particular area where Japan can contribute is to build upon its current work and expand its reputation
as an international center of excellence in agricultural research including bio-technology and other
technology supporting small scale farmers. Such research is crucial for assuring global and regional food
security as well as for developing a healthy agricultural sector, and it is the one area where Japan actually
has a comparative advantage in agriculture.
Cooperation in agricultural research has much more potential to improve Japan’s food security than
buying land in other countries, which often leads to feelings of mistrust and damages relationships with
other countries. In addition, even if a country owns land in another country, there is no guarantee that the
food produced on those farms can be exported in times of crisis. It may be possible to invest in some land
in developed countries with land surpluses, but buying land in developing countries with limited land is
Japan may wish to promote further in free trade, especially free trade agreements in food and agriculture.
Freer trade generally means more food security for Japan and for other countries as well. It will also help
to diversify trade sources, in order to avoid excessive dependence on one or two partners. Japan may also
wish to negotiate long-term forward contracts for various foods in order to ensure stability of supply.
Building emergency food reserve is another measure which would help to cope in any emergency
Japan has created very close ties with ASEAN and its members. It would be important to promote
ASEAN Integrated Food Security Framework and associated food security policies to ensure strong
commitments within ASEAN community to help each other to achieve sustainable food security. Japan
may benefit from this regional governance under the framework of ASEAN +3 and alternatively a larger
framework such as ASEAN +6.
Finally, on the consumption side, Japanese consumers might be encouraged to re-evaluate their diets.
Exportation of dietary models based on modern food technologies and traditional Japanese diets will
create new markets and rich food culture with improved health and nutrition in the world. It would also be
important to reduce food losses and table wastes, as we anticipate nearly 15-20 % of foods are wasted in
Japan after they are cooked and served at dining tables.
In conclusion, we need to promote food security policy, sustainable domestic food production and
consumption, long-term trust with food exporting countries to secure sustainable supply of foods, and
promote awareness and advocate the importance of food and agriculture among all generations in society
to ensure food for all, for our future generations.
|Date of issued||2013-11-20|
|Publisher||Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences|
|Rights||Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences|