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Words of Premonition?

Touch the Soil News #498

The chairman of the Chinese overseas trade council – Jiang Zengwei – recently made a foretelling announcement. “We must help Chinese agriculture go global, as people have an increased demand for agricultural products with improved quality.”

Less than two years ago, China was still steeped in policies that obliged the nation to attempt to produce its own food. That failed, and China is now openly grazing around the world for agricultural assets. Yes, some of the food will be purchased on the global market. However, much of it will come in the form of owning agricultural assets – farmland, food manufacturing facilities, transportation facilities and a matrix of ports and ships to direct all production to China.

Imagine for a moment that China is a regular consumer in the United States. Unlike the average American that goes to the grocery store to buy food, pay for it, and go home and put it away – China will do things different. First off, much of what the China consumer would do is to own the farmland, processing facilities and transportation with food directly coming to the house without the grocer and all of the other middlemen.

The Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade signs a memorandum of understanding: “On strengthening a partnership to help the Chinese agriculture industry go global.” (photo courtesy of He

Jiang Zengwei’s statement is almost prophetic. If we re-worked Jiang’s statement to apply to Americans, we might come up with something like this: We must help American people convert lawns to food and set up local processing facilities, as exports of American agricultural production cannot be curtailed.

The Chinese have verbalized a course of action that other nations may have to adopt in the intermediate future. Every year, the Chinese population grows by around 7 million. However, global population is growing by around 78 million a year – dwarfing the Chinese growth.

To put this into perspective, to feed one person at American standards takes at least 1 acre of farmland (maybe more). Over the next five years, Earth’s 390 million new inhabitants are going to need 390 million more acres of farmland (mostly from slashing and burning rainforests). The primary crop farmland in America is only 320 million and all of it is in full production and all food eaten every year. A new farm totaling 390 million acres would be equivalent to a farm 25 miles wide and 24,000 miles long (around the entire equator).

Following is a short documentary that looks into the future to see the 10 most populated countries by 2050 (can you guess what number the United States will be?):

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