By 2050, the world’s human population will reach over nine billion. Nearly all of this increase will occur in developing countries. Urbanisation is going to rise at an accelerating rate and income levels could multiply. With an extra two billion mouths to feed each day, how can we ensure Global Food Security is achieved by 2050?
Harsh increases in global and national markets, and the resulting surges in hungry and malnourished people have sharpened the awareness of the general public and policy-makers on the issue that is the global food system. Political will and effective responses must be utilised to render the system better prepared for long-term demand and to ensure it is more resilient towards risk factors that confront world agriculture and adequate food supply.
On average, around five million children die each year due to poor nutrition. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), almost 1 billion people suffer from chronic hunger. Before addressing the issue of our rapidly increasing population, we should question the current situation. As an international community who want to eliminate world hunger, the problem should be viewed from a human rights perspective, and those who have previously been disregarded in development planning must have a place: equality, human rights and economics must frame the sustainable development goals, (SDGs).
Increased food production is not sufficient to achieve global food security. The fight against hunger requires policies to enhance access to fighting poverty, safety net programmes, health and sanitation, food assistance, education and training improvements. Research and development for sustained productivity growth, infrastructure and institutional reforms, environmental services and sustainable resource management necessitate increased investment. Policies should not only focus on supply growth, but also the access to food the world’s poor and hungry need to ensure them an active and healthy life, a journal from Nature stated.
As rural populations expand quicker than agricultural employment, there will be an increased demand for jobs out of the agricultural sector. As competition for space between water and agriculture increases, it must be recognised that we need more from less land. Issues such as climate change, natural habitat preservation and biodiversity need to be taken into account, especially as converting tropical rainforest to agricultural land is a very destructive process, one which we have already exploited. It needs to be asked, what can be done for countries with high demand growth, fragile environments and limited commercial capacity to import food or feed from the world markets?
With increased prosperity in developing countries, diets will shift from grains and other staple crops to vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy, and fish. It has been estimated that meat production alone will have to rise by over 200 million tonnes to reach the required 470 million tonnes worldwide.
It is not only food production that is an issue; many regions in East/North Africa and South Africa have pronounced water scarcity which is likely to worsen due to the effects of climate change. Higher temperatures, carbon dioxide elevation, precipitation changes, increased weeds,pests and disease pressure are some of the products of climate change, which can hold dangerous implications on achieving global food security.
It seems, realistically, that is not necessarily all about space. Agricultural expansion does not appear as a sustainable solution for the problem. Improvements in organic and commercial farming, increasing yields on less productive farmlands, preventing deforesta-
tion, shifting to less meat-intensive diets in countries where meat is consumed regularly and reducing waste can all hold positive impacts, say the National Geographic. However, there are many factors that also need to be taken into account. The use of biofuels, pollution, overall capacities, foreign investment capacity in developing countries and the fact that the FAO estimates future consumption levels country by country should be considered.
We have the resources and technology required to eradicate world hunger. However, in order to utilise these resources, proper socioeconomic frameworks and political will is required. The way we shape the future for the global food system is up to us. The time for change is now.