April 2014
by Samuel R. Halpert, Analyst, VanEck

One of the big questions people have in the agriculture space is: with limited arable land and water, how do we resolve the growing demand for food? We need more crops! The answer is in technology, and seeds are a big part of that. The other part, but often overlooked, is actually in machinery. The John Deeres of this world, for example, have allowed farmers to be much more precise, much more efficient, and, I think, that has created big advantages in terms of yield. For example, with spacing down, i.e., seeds planted closer together, you also get bigger yields.

World production and use, major products (million tonnes)

Key variables beyond 2050

  2005/2007 2050 2080 2100
Population (million)- UN 2008 Revision 6,592 9,150 9,414 9,202
Population (million)- UN 2010 Revision 6,584 9,306 9,969 10,125
kcal/person/day 2,772 3,070 3,200  
Cereals, food (kg/capita) 158 160 161  
Cereals, all uses (kg/capita) 314 330 339  
Meat, food (kg/capita) 38.7 49.4 55.4  
Oilcrops (oil. equiv.), Food (kg/cap) 12.1 16.2 16.9  
Oilcrops (oil. equiv.), all uses (kg/cap) 21.9 30.5 33.8  
Cereals, production (million tonnes) 2,068 3,009 3,182  
Meat, production (million tonnes) 258 455 524  
Cereal yields (tonnes/ha; rice paddy) 3.32 4.30 4.83  
Arable land area (million ha) 1,592 1,661 1,630  

Agricultural Development Economics Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
World agriculture towards 2030/2050: the 2012 revision
ESA Working Paper No. 12-03, June 2012

About the Author:
Samuel R. Halpert is an analyst at VanEck specializing in the agriculture, coal, steel, forest products, and tanker sectors. Prior to joining VanEck, Mr. Halpert was employed by Goldman Sachs as an analyst/trader for a global macro hedge fund. He was previously Vice President of Institutional Futures Sales at Salomon Smith Barney where he covered Steinhardt, Omega, Kingdon Capital, Soros Fund Management, and Tudor.

The article above is an opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of MV Index Solutions or its affiliates.