Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Feeding the Growing Population

The global population is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. While it won't necessarily be easy to feed 10 billion people sustainably, it is possible, experts believe. The World Socialist Movement declares the only guarantee of a healthy sustainable global population is socialism. Global agriculture currently produces some 4,000 calories per capita per day - the double of what each person needs yet hunger persists. 

"Today, we would be able to feed many more people than we do," Ralf Südhoff, head of the World Food Program of the United Nations in Berlin told DW. "But we waste too much of the food we produce, and we lack efficient production - particularly in Africa," Südhoff said.

Population growth is not the key cause of hunger, Südhoff said - it is rather a lack of efficiency in managing our resources. 

Average productivity in African countries is around 20 percent of its capacity, said Reiner Klingholz, chairman of the think tank Berlin Institute for Population and Development. Farmers in rural areas of some African and Asian countries still lack the necessary means to maximize crop yields, misusing vast areas of land. But experts agree that productivity could be increased through very simple means. "Now is the time to support small-scale farmers so that they can sell their products at a larger scale," he concluded.
"Efficiency could be doubled or tripled in African countries by providing basic means such as training, credits and land rights," Südhoff said.
According to Valentin Thurn, director of the German documentary 10 Milliarden - Wie werden wir alle satt? (10 billion- what's on your plate?), farmers in rural areas are the most affected by hunger - and the ones most commonly left behind.  He believes smallholders should get integrated into the modernization processes - until now, only limited to big industrialized farms.
"We are already producing enough for 9 to 12 billion people - but we discard a third of the harvest worldwide," Thurn pointed out. Researchers believe food waste can realistically be reduced by 80 percent, Thurn said. He also believes that multinational corporations are not the correct actors for leading global agricultural change. "They always have capital-intensive solutions, and they want to make farmers dependent on buying seeds from them every year," Thurn said.
The World Food Program estimates that under climate change scenarios, the risk of malnutrition for children will increase 20 percent by 2050 - meaning 24 million more children could soon suffer from it. Industrialized countries are therefore even more responsible for mitigating the effects of climate change, Südhoff believes.

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