UPDATED: May 6, 2013
If you watch a lot of movies and television shows (as I do), you will find quite of bit of prognosticating on what the future will look like. At worst, this can seem old-fashioned (such as Back to the Future Part II thinking that multiple fax machines would be in every home by 2015). At best (as in the case of Star Trek), it can be thought-provoking.
And this trend is alive and well at CropLife®, too. In the April 2013 issue, you will find a story by ZedX’s Joe Russo detailing what life might be like for an agronomist in the year 2063.
While this seems a bit too far afield for my liking (I’ll be pushing 100 in that year), another future discussion I heard recently took a look at what life might be like for agriculture and the world in the year 2025 — just down the line, so the speak, in my expected timeline. This presentation was given by Rich Kottmeyer, global leader of agriculture and food production for Accenture at the 2013 Ag Issues Forum, sponsored by Bayer CropScience in late February.
By this year, said Kottmeyer, the global population will be pushing 8 billion — 1 billion higher than today’s mark. And because of improvements in food production (which will lower food costs), approximately half will be classified as living in the middle class.
And this will have a profound impact on agriculture. “The talk in growing food will shift from security to quality,” said Kottmeyer. “These new middle class consumers will be looking for things like convenience, quality and availability in their food, which will cause growers to move from producing commodity products to value-added ones.”
Furthermore, by 2025, Kottmeyer predicts that the world’s largest economies will both be in Asia, with China at No. 1 and India at No. 2. “The success of the U.S. farmer in 2025 will be tied to feeding consumers in these two countries,” he said. “The U.S. will be the world’s third largest economy, but still have more than 4% of the global population, which isn’t a bad place to be.”
Perhaps most encouraging about this rank order of country economies is how it will further the cause of biotech crop acceptance around the entire globe. “It is really simple why this happened,” said Kottmeyer. “China needed increased yields to feed its growing and more affluent population while India needed food availability to reduce food prices for its consumers. So as went these countries, so went Southeast Asia and the countries there that produce food for China and India. This, along with data that showed biotech crops were a way to conserve soil, water and energy ultimately convinced Japan and Europe that using biotech crops made sense, too.”
In one dozen years, the world will be in 2025 and it will be interesting to look back at Kottmeyer’s speech to see how many of his predications came to pass. Some may seem old-fashioned, but I’m betting the majority of them will prove insightful.