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Uploaded on Tuesday 21 Feb 2012 by GRID-Arendal

Potential for cropland expansion

Year: 2009 Author: Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
Current projections suggest that an additional 120 million ha – an area twice the size of France or one-third that of India – will be needed to support the traditional growth in food production by 2030, mainly in developing countries (FAO, 2003), without considering the compensation required for certain losses. The demand for irrigated land is projected to increase by 56% in Sub- Saharan Africa (from 4.5 to 7 million ha), and rainfed land by 40% (from 150 to 210 million ha) in order to meet the demand, without considering ecosystem services losses and setbacks in yields and available cropland (FAO, 2003; 2006). Increases in available cropland may be possible in Latin America through the conversion of rainforests (Figure 13), which in turn will accelerate climate change and biodiversity losses, causing feedback loops that may hinder the projected increases in crop yields. The potential for increases is more questionable in large parts of sub-Saharan Africa due to political, socio-economic and environmental constraints. In Asia, nearly 95% of the potential cropland has already been utilized (FAO, 2003; 2006). Even if such increases are not restricted by other land use and the protection of tropical rainforests, changes in the proportion of non-food crops to food crops may have even greater impacts on the available cropland for food production.
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