Human Population Statistics Rationalize Agriculture

 Figures on human population statistics generated by the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (UN-DESA-PD 2011) indicate a surging world population even with some countries posting negative growth (see table below).

After only four decades starting 2010, it is estimated that in 2050 there will be an additional 2.41 billion (2,410,239,000) more people to feed.

Ensuring food supply means a continuing crop and livestock agriculture and other food production systems including fisheries. Consequently, an exponential growth will be expected in the demand for water, energy and other resources for agricultural, industrial and domestic use.

Table 1-PS. Population statistics comparing estimated total human population (in thousands) of the world, selected regions and countries for the year 2010 and 2050 (Source: UN-DESA-PD 2011).



Population Increment* Percent Increase (%)

World 6,895,889 9,306,128 2,410,239 34.95
More developed regions 1,235,900 1,311,731 75,831 6.14
Australia** 22,268 31,385 9,117 40.94
United Kingdom** 62,036 72,817 10,781 17.38
United States of America** 310,384 403,101 92,717 29.87
Japan** 126,536 108,549 -7,987 -14.21
Asia 4,164,252 5,142,220 977,968 23.48
China 1,341,335 1,295,604 -5,731 -3.41
India 1,224,614 1,692,008 467,394 38.17
Southeast Asia 593,415 759,207 165,792 27.94
Brunei Darussalam 399 602 203 50.88
Cambodia 14,138 18,965 4,827 34.14
Indonesia 239,871 293,456 53,585 22.34
Lao People’s Democratic Republic 6,201 8,384 2,183 35.20
Malaysia 28,401 43,455 15,054 53.00
Myanmar 47,963 55,296 7,333 15.29
Philippines*** 93,261 154,939 61,678 66.13
Singapore 5,086 6,106 1,020 20.05
Thailand 69,122 71,037 1,915 2.77
Timor Leste 1,124 3,006 1,882 167.44
Viet Nam 87,848 103,962 16,114 18.34
Least developed countries 832,330 1,726,468 894,138 107.43

*Population statistics supplied by the author. Population increment is the difference between the populations for 2050 and 2010. Percentage (%) increase refers to the proportion of population increment to the 2010 population.

** Australia, United Kingdom, United States of America and Japan are among the countries belonging to the More Developed Regions according to the classification of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-DESA-PD 2011).

***According to the National Statistics Office (2012) based on national census, the population of the Philippines in year 2010 was 92,337,852.

The above population statistics show that the percentage increase in human population in 2050 over those in 2010 is minimal in the more developed regions (6.14%) compared to those of the Least Developed Countries, World, Asia, and Southeast Asia (107.43%, 34.95%, 23.48% and 27.94%, respectively). More developed regions is defined by the United Nations (UN-DESA-PD 2011) as comprising of Europe, Northern America, Australia/New Zealand, and Japan. Japan, also an Asian country, is projected to achieve negative growth (-14.21%) at the end of the period. The same negative projection (-3.41%) applies to China, an Asian giant.

As to Southeast Asia, all 11 component countries will have more population in 2050 topped by Timor Leste, Philippines and Malaysia in terms of percentage increase (167.44%, 66.13% and 53.00%, respectively). However, population densities, which also indicate how populous a country is per unit of land area, differ. Population statistics from UN-DESA-PD (2011) also show that in 2050 these countries are projected to have population densities of 2.02, 5.16 and 1.32 persons per hectare which are equivalent to land-to-man ratio of about 4,950, 1,938 and 7,576 sq. meters per person, respectively. Population density is computed by dividing total population by total country area which includes area under inland water bodies.

The 2,410,239,000 additional populace in 2050 is equivalent to 34.95 percent of the 2010 population. This also indicates that throughout the world at least 34.95 percent or more than one-third more food has to be produced compared to the 2010 volume.

Statistical data from 1995 to 2008 show that there has been an increasing trend in chronic hunger throughout the world (FAO 2009). In 2011, according to FAO (2011), almost 1 billion people throughout the world are undernourished with 239 milion in Sub-Saharan Africa and 578 million in Asia.

For the less and least developed countries with high population growth rate, the picture of a starving population and the expectation of an increased expenditure for food and other basic needs would be more vivid. Many countries and their people must have been fully convinced of the ill effects of a bloated population, and so they have installed drastic programs to curb down population growth. Whatsoever, the world will continue to accomodate humans.

Agriculture must necessarily go on. It means generating more efficient agricultural technology in the most expeditious manner. It means more efficient utilization of available land without destroying the environment. Agricultural productivity per unit area of land must have a huge leap within the shortest time possible. Agricultural production areas have to be expanded.

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[FAO] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2011. The state of the world's land and water resources for food and agriculture. Retrieved from

(Ben G. Bareja Sept. 2012)

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