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or several years now, I have been showcased in IRRIs 2010 Annual monitoring, with some alarm, Report.

In addition, advances we the world population clock on are making in both favorable and the front page of IRRIs Web site. unfavorable rice environments are featured in this issue of Rice Today, This clock is forever ticking upward, where we take close looks at the while, at the same time, the global Impact of the Irrigated Rice Research productive land clock just beneath it is forever ticking downward. Truly, this Consortium (IRRC) and Consortium is an inconvenient divergence of more for Unfavorable Rice Environments and more people depending on less (CURE), partners in the highlands. and less arable land, pasture land, and To underscore the population forest from which they must obtain food dilemma for this issue, we feature and other vital resources. The respective two CGIAR (Consultative Group on clocks are diverging at a current rate of International Agricultural Research) around 2.4 persons per second and 1 directors general as special hectare every 7.67 seconds! columnistsPapa Seck, who leads In a few weeks (31 October to be the Africa Rice Center, one of our Billions of people exact), our population clock, which major GRiSP partners; and Shenggen 16 we have synchronized to match the Fan, at the helm of the International Food Policy Research Institute in medium variant in the United Nations 14 Washington, D.C. Assuming the 9 recent 2010 Revision of the World billion or so scenario for 2050, Dr. Seck Population Prospects, will reach the 7 believes that sub-Saharan Africa will billion milestone. It does not escape me 12 that almost half of this mass of humanity play a significant role in global food Estimated 10 continues to depend on rice for its security in the coming decades. This Actual staple food. is because, unlike Asia and Europe, UN High What of the future? If we follow the where the availability of potential land 8 UN Medium UNs medium predictions, our clock will and water for agriculture is declining, UN Low show around 9 billion by mid-century Africa still possesses a large reservoir of 6 (yellow line on the graph)now less underused agricultural land and water than 40 years awayand level off at resources. In the Grain of Truth section, 4 around 10.1 billion by 2100. However, if Dr. Fan warns that population growth global fertility were just 0.5 child more and land constraints are not the only 2 per woman than expected, our clock forces of change that are challenging AdApted And updAted from Loren Cobb, university of CoLorAdo in 2050 and 2100 could show as many food security, especially where rice is 0 as 10.6 billion and 15.8 billion (red line concerned. We also have to add to the 1800 1840 1880 1920 1960 2000 2040 2080 mix increased input and labor costs, on graph), respectivelyvery scary and hardly imaginable! Going the other water constraints, and climate change. Year direction with global fertility being Adhering to the UNs medium just 0.5 child less per woman than expected, the clock would show prediction, the Global Harvest Initiative calculates that, if we are to 8.1 billion in 2050 and then reverse course to only 6.2 billion at the feed the 9+ billion people sharing our planet by 2050, we will need end of the century (green line on graph). The medium prediction is to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the probably more likely, at least for 2050, since people who will be 40 last 8,000! As daunting as that concept is, I believe we can improve years old and older by then have already been born. productivity enough to achieve it. Ironically, it will be due to what Although we should take all three scenarios in the graph with I call the convenient convergence of solving simultaneously a grain of salt, I think it is probably most prudent to take the middle todays problems of floods, drought, seawater incursion, etc., and road. If world population does stabilize at around 10 billion by the turn tomorrows problems tied to inevitable climate change and the of the century, at which it hopefully will have reached a replacementcontinuing inconvenient divergence of more people and less land. only level, we should be able to meet the still formidable challenge of feeding that many people with focused and cutting-edge agricultural research. We have the tools availableparticularly in rice research now driven by the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP)to increase productivity significantly in the coming decades. Robert S. Zeigler Shining examples of our impressive research progress to help Director General us tackle problems associated with more people and less land are

Monitoring an inconvenient divergence