Which Crops Are Best To Fight Hunger?

Much of the content of my forthcoming book, Hunger Math: world hunger by the numbers, is centered around identifying which crops will be most effective in fighting world hunger. There are two crucial insights here:

1) The vast majority of the hungry have sufficient calories and carbohydrates for survival; they primarily lack dietary fat and secondarily lack protein.

2) The world agricultural system does not produce sufficient protein and fat for 7 billion persons.

So in order to end world hunger, we cannot simply distribute the existing food supply more fairly. The world agricultural system must change, to produce more protein, much more fat, and perhaps less carbs. We produce enough carbs to feed 13 billion, barely enough protein for 7 billion persons, and only enough fat for 6 billion persons.
(See my article: Comparison of World Staple Crops)

We must identify and make ample use of the crops that are most productive in terms of macronutrients per unit area of land, per unit of time. The world agricultural system has a certain amount of land, per year, to devote to growing food. Consider two crops that produce about the same amount of macronutrients per growing season: one takes 4 months to reach harvest, and the other only 3 months. So the shorter season crop is more productive, in terms of kg of macronutrients per hectare and per year. We can then normalize the values of macronutrient productivity to a value in kg per hectare-year in order to compare various staple crops.

My book identifies the top staples crops for production of fat, of protein, of carbs, and of total kilocalories per ha-year. The top fat and protein crops are of the utmost importance in fighting world hunger. Several crops are top producers of two macronutrients. A few are top producers of all three macronutrients. Choosing the right crops will allow us to make most efficient use of the land and time resources of the world agricultural system in order to provide the hungry with the macronutrients that they lack.


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