Increasing Pace of Urbanization and Implications for Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    The pace of urbanization has picked up rapidly in the global economy. Brears (2017) estimates that by 2050 more than two-thirds of the world population will be living in metropolitan centres. At the same time, the total population of the world is expected to rise from 7.7 billion in 2019–20 to around 9.8 billion in 2050.1 This growth in the global population is expected to be largely concentrated in Africa and Asia with stagnant, even declining, populations in many OECD countries. Indeed, the UN estimates that just nine countries are expected to account for more than half the population growth between 2017 and 2050. In decreasing order of total population growth, these countries are: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, USA, Uganda and Indonesia. 47 least developed countries of the world had very high fertility rates, of about 4.3 births per woman in child-bearing age group, resulting in a population growth of about 2.4 per cent per year. This concentration of population growth in low-income countries along with the rapid pace of urbanization implies that agricultural land in these countries is under threat of being taken over by urban sprawl (Hatab, Cavinato, Lindemer, & Lagerkvist, 2019). Much of this land is highly fertile as it occupies basins of some major rivers in these areas. At the same time, as urban centres develop, there are pressures on other natural resources, in particular, water. Food demand goes up, along with a sharp increase in the urban land area and population. Urbanization in many parts of the developing world occurs not just because of better opportunities for migrants in urban areas but also because of the paucity of good opportunities in the rural sector. Often when migrants move into urban areas, they have poor access to basic amenities like health, water, sanitation and the like. Many of the cities are overgrown slums. As a consequence, food security and nutritional outcomes do not improve much because of migration to urban areas. This chapter analyses the viewpoints on food security in the light of increased pace of urbanization. It begins by reviewing the growth of urbanization in the global economy and in select countries. It then analyses the growth of crop yields and the prospects for these yields to match the projected increase in population and reports that there is a need to accelerate yield growth through total factor productivity growth in agriculture. Investment in Research and Development (R&D) is identified as a key input into growth of agricultural productivity. The chapter moves on to consider policy measures that could stimulate investment in agricultural R&D, followed by a conclusion.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSustainable Consumption and Production
    Editors Ranjula Bali Swain and Susanne Sweet
    Place of PublicationSwitzerland
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    ISBN (Print)978-3-030-56371-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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