The paper describes how wheat-based foods make up a major portion of total global calories, proteins and micronutrients that support growth and development. It argues that both whole- and refined-grain wheat products contribute to healthy nutrition globally.
Wheat is grown in nearly every region of the world and represents a main source of food and income for millions of smallholder farmers. The authors say wheat-based foods are therefore critical for food security and nutritional security worldwide.
The authors draw attention to the predicted upcoming food crisis, as populations in developing countries expand rapidly, especially in Africa and South Asia. They note that population growth is likely to outpace yield gains in wheat and call for larger investments in wheat and other cereal crops to keep pace with future demand.
The task of feeding 9.2 billion people by 2050 is daunting, but breeding has met this challenge before, during the green revolution. Hans Braun, head of the global wheat program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is calling for a “new green revolution” to meet this new challenge.
Braun described a required 1.2 percent yield gain per year and said this is higher than the recent global average. However, promising programs, such as the durum wheat program at CIMMYT have achieved this goal consistently over the last several decades. The CIMMYT durum wheat program has achieved 3.4 percent yield gain per year over the last 43 years, over double the required gain over the next 30 years.
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