Future Challenges

During the next 25 years, the population in Asia is projected to increase from 3.0 billion to 4.5 billion. The demand for food is predicted to increase by about 40 percent from the present level of 650 million tons. This increase must come from increases in agricultural productivity in favorable areas and in rainfed and marginal areas. They will have to be achieved with less labor, water, and arable land since there is no scope for increasing the cultivated areas. Based on current trends in population and food production in Asia, there is likely to be a large gap between food production and demand by 2025.

Strategies to meet the required increases in food supply include

(i) sustainable productivity increases in food, feed, and fiber crops;

(ii) reducing chemical inputs of fertilizers and pesticides and replacing them with biologically-based products; (iii) integrating soil, water, and nutrient management; (iv) improving the nutrition and productivity of livestock and controlling livestock diseases; (v) achieving sustainable increases in fisheries and aquaculture production; and (vi) increasing trade and competitiveness in global markets.

The challenge is how to use new developments in modern science (including biotechnology) in concert with information and communications technology, and new ways of managing knowledge, to make the complex agricultural systems of Asia more productive in sustainable ways.

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