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Increasing Crop Production Sustainably—The Perspectives of Biological Process

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Year Published:
Resource Type:
Technical Guidance

With the global population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, agricultural production would need to grow globally by 70 percent over the same period to feed this population.

This need to feed more people puts greater pressure on crop production and the resource base upon which it depends. This is exacerbated by the additional pressures of coping with an increasingly degraded environment, uncertainties arising from climate change and other stressors such as increasing urbanization and volatile food prices.

Further complicating this situation is that the global community must meet this increasing food demand in a world where ecosystem resilience is compromised, and land resources available for agricultural expansion are limited.

With land scarcity, crop production intensification rather than area expansion becomes the primary option available. Well-managed ecosystems are essential for ensuring a healthy resource base on which to intensify sustainably, to ensure that enough food is produced from now until 2050 – and beyond.

At local levels, farming practices, approaches or technologies based on the management of biological processes that provide essential ecosystem goods and services, can be applied to produce higher crop yields and optimize input use while maintaining or enhancing ecosystem health. A range of options exist for good farm management practices, approaches and technologies that are based on biological processes. Examples include: conservation agriculture; integrated plant nutrient management; integrated pest management; and pollination management.