July 11, 2015
World Population Day: How Do We Feed A Growing Population?

By Brandie Piper

Monsanto Corporate Engagement team

In 1989, the United Nations established World Population Day, on 11 July, to bring awareness to issues that arise with the rapidly growing population. Since then, the world’s population has grown from 5.1 billion people to more than 7.2 billion people today. And by 2050, the world’s population is projected to rise to 9.6 billion people. Sustainably growing enough food for a growing world will be one of the greatest challenges facing humankind, and it’s one challenge that Monsanto is partnering with others to help solve.

The United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs reports half of the world’s population growth between now and 2050 will occur in Africa. The continent is facing many challenges as it undergoes this rapid population growth, such as hunger, climate change and drought. These challenges suggest the need for strong agricultural systems to be put in place to help countries adapt. Monsanto is working with partners in Africa and around the world to bring a broad range of solutions to help farmers have better harvests, while using resources efficiently.

As part of a collaboration with others, which includes farmers in five countries, national agricultural research organisations, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and charitable foundations, Monsanto has donated drought-tolerant seed traits and shared technical expertise to help African farmers harvest more from their fields through the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) partnership. The partnership began in 2008, and in 2014 the first improved conventional white-maize hybrid seeds were used by farmers.

The results have been impressive so far from the feedback of some farmers. Sylvester Oikeh is the WEMA project manager for AATF. He said, “There are some farmers who have told us that from a piece of land where they used to harvest half a bag they now harvest one and a half bags—three times more from planting WEMA hybrid seed.”

In agriculture, a seven-year partnership takes commitment and dedication on behalf of all groups involved. To see positive results in the first year of the launch is rewarding, but there is more work to be done.

Hunger is also a challenge

Of the six habitable continents, Africa has the highest rate of undernourishment. More than 35 percent of the population lives in hunger at some point during the year. Many of these people are farmers who need access to tools to help them provide food for themselves, their families and their communities. Poor harvests, year after year, keep many of them in a cycle of poverty and hunger that is difficult to escape. Subpar harvests also have a broader impact on local communities and national food security, as countries must rely on imports or food aid to meet their basic food needs.

Providing farmers with the opportunity to purchase better seeds can be one part of the solution. Improving roads and waterways, building infrastructure to support distribution and delivering better tools and resources to grow the crops are other pieces of the puzzle. It’s a huge undertaking that requires teamwork among many parties; Monsanto recognises the importance of food security for Africa today, tomorrow, in 2050 and beyond.

It’s going to take the efforts of many people and groups to provide the solutions to help farmers to sustainably grow enough food.

To learn more about some of the solutions to the challenges facing the world’s growing population, visit To join the conversation about World Population Day on social media, use the
hashtag #WPD2015.



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