Meeting the world’s food challenges

Since 1901, the world’s population has increased fourfold. By 2030, it is likely to increase by a further third. This presents the enormous challenge of feeding an additional two billion people using the same amount of land and water that is available today.

The earth’s resources are under severe strain, but sustaining and protecting the environment can help to meet our growing demand for food. Inorganic and organic fertilisers have boosted quality and yield, and crop protection has improved so farmers are losing less of their yield to pests, disease and weeds. In addition, the increase in global trade in wheat has meant that farmers now face competition from many other markets. The modern wheat trade is strictly regulated, with farming currently requiring technological and administrative, as well as agricultural skills.

Wheat and the future

“We couldn’t feed today’s world with yesterday’s agriculture and we won’t be able to feed tomorrow’s world with today’s.

But we can try to do it in a way that is more environmentally sensitive by producing crops that are water tolerant, salt tolerant and resistant to particular insects without putting chemicals on them that are potentially hazardous to wildlife.”

Lord Robert May
President of the Royal Society, March 2002

In 2000, enough wheat to cover an area nine times the size of the UK was produced worldwide. Better quality crops with higher yields results in the potential of these crops to enhance food and increase feed yields. This, coupled with a reduction in the use of chemicals and the increase of profitability, is the reason the world’s farmers plant more and more each year.

The John Innes Centre and wheat

The John Innes Centre is an international centre of excellence in plant and microbial science and is based in Norwich. Its mission is to carry out fundamental and strategic research, to train scientists and to make its findings available to society.

The exhibition was established to encourage dialogue and to engage everybody in learning about the process of growing wheat as well as to enable us to gain a better understanding of the needs of consumers and growers. By integrating established breeding techniques with advanced technology, the John Innes Centre strives to contribute towards a sustainable level of nutrition for the world’s rapidly growing population.