Thursday, May 31, 2012

Feeding our future

Nearly one in seven people suffer from malnourishment, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said. hundreds of millions of people are not getting adequate nutrition because they lack the means to produce or purchase the foods required for a healthy and productive life it said [SOYMB emphasis] The FAO estimates that three fourths of the world’s poor and hungry live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, while forty percent of the world’s degraded lands are in areas with high poverty rates.

The report predicts that if current consumption patterns persist, the world will need to increase food output by 60 percent by 2050 from levels in 2005 and 2007 in order to feed a population that is expected to rise to 9 billion from about 7 billion now. However, experts say that it is possible to feed the population with a smaller rise in food production by making production and consumption more sustainable. The agency said that food consumption and production systems should "achieve more with less," and besides reducing their negative environmental impacts, including soil and water depletion as well as greenhouse gas emissions, governments should work on cutting down on food losses and waste.

Agriculture and food systems are major consumers of natural resources, using up over 30 percent of the world’s energy, while "crop and livestock sectors use 70 percent of all water withdrawals", said the report.

Access to natural resources – such as land, water or forests – is essential for the 2.5 billion people who produce food for their own consumption and income, according to the report. Farmers who run the 500 million small farms in developing countries – and the majority of them are women – face various resource limitations including insufficient access to food, land, water and nutrition.

Unless purposeful action is taken, the increase in food production of 60 percent needed to meet effective demand will still leave behind over 300 million people who are expected to suffer from chronic hunger in 2050 because they will remain without the means to access food the agency said.

Agriculture and the Environment

• Smallholders farm some 80 percent of arable land in Africa and Asia. • Livestock production alone uses 80 percent of global crop and pasture area. • Agriculture accounts for about 30 percent of total greenhouse emissions, and is projected to be a significant source of future emissions growth. • If women farmers were given the same access to agricultural inputs as men on the land women already control, they could increase yields by 20–30 percent, lifting 100-150 million people out of hunger. • One and a half billion people are now classified as overweight or obese. • Global food losses and waste are estimated at roughly 30 percent for cereals, 40–50 percent for root crops, fruits and vegetables; 20 percent for oil seeds; and 30 percent for fish. • The forestry sector provides formal employment for 10 million people and informal employment for an additional 30–50 million people in developing countries. • Aqualculture is the fastest- growing food sector with an annual growth rate of nearly 8 percent for the past decade and supplying 60 million tonnes, which is close to 50 percent, of the global food fish supply. • The potential net economic benefits from better governance and management of marine fisheries have been estimated at 50 billion dollars per year.


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