Prof Roland-Holst said that China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of food, but it has recently passed the tipping point in food self-sufficiency, which means within a decade, it will be the world’s largest importer of food.
He said that China’s farmland is scarce and not much water in areas where it is needed, stressing that “China has 20% of the world population but only 7% of the world farmland, and this is shrinking”.
He noted that the urban-rural migration of China’s population is also posing huge problems and challenges to the food supply chain and labour, because urbanites use more than twice the water as the rural people. “Half a billion people are moving from the food supply side to the demand side,” he added.
He highlighted that rising incomes in China are also increasing the resource-intensity of food consumption as people eat more meat rather than vegetable proteins.
“Even if population remained constant over the next 20 years, China would have to double agricultural capacity to meet its changing food requirements,” said Prof Roland-Holst.