Friday, December 27, 2013

Agriculture needs to change to feed the world

 The World Resources Institute says the global agriculture and food industries must change if people are to get enough to eat 40 years from now.

World population is forecast to increase from seven billion now to 9.6 billion in 2050, and that means the world will need 69 per cent more food, says the institute.

It can’t come from the way we currently produce food because there won’t be enough land, water and energy.

Agriculture already accounts for 24 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, takes 37 per cent of the global landmass and uses 70 per cent of the available water.

If governments continue with current goals for ethanol and biodiesel fuels from farming, that will take 32 per cent of current production volumes, yet provide only two per cent of the energy requirements 36 years from now.

It’s often said that there’s enough food for everybody and that the challenge is distribution, but the institute points out that even if all the food we’re currently producing were distributed absolutely evenly to everybody in 2050, people would be short by 974 calories.

Among the solutions the World Resources Institute identifies are:

-Reducing waste which currently claims a quarter of production before crops move from fields to dinner plates. Eliminating waste would narrow the food gap by 20 per cent.

 -Eating healthier diets. Reducing beef consumption by 20 per cent would free up a lot of land to produce other foods, the institute says.

-Reducing family size, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where the population is projected to double by 2050.

-Increasing cereal-crop yields on the same trend line that currently exists. That would close the gap by 30 per cent.