Thursday, February 23, 2017

Our food future


The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges, warns mankind’s future ability to feed itself is in jeopardy due to intensifying pressures on natural resources, mounting inequality, and the fallout from a changing climate.

It says almost one half of the forests that once covered the Earth are now gone. Groundwater sources are being depleted rapidly. Biodiversity has been deeply eroded. As a result, “planetary boundaries may well be surpassed, if current trends continue,” cautions FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva in his introduction to the report.

The core question raised by the new FAO report is whether, looking ahead, the world’s agriculture and food systems are capable of sustainably meeting the needs of a rising global population. The answer is “Yes” The explains the planet’s food systems are capable of producing enough food to do so, and in a sustainable way, but unlocking that potential – and ensuring that all of humanity benefits – will require Major transformations in agricultural systems, rural economies and natural resource management will be needed if we are to meet the multiple challenges before us and realize the full potential of food and agriculture to ensure a secure and healthy future for all people and the entire planet,” it says. High-input, resource-intensive farming systems, which have caused massive deforestation, water scarcities, soil depletion and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, cannot deliver sustainable food and agricultural production,” adds the report.

The report emphasisesAccording to the report, without a push to invest in and re-tool food systems, far too many people will still be hungry in 2030 — the year by which the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda has targeted the eradication of chronic food insecurity and malnutrition, the report warns.
Without additional efforts to promote pro-poor development, reduce inequalities and protect vulnerable people, more than 600 million people would still be undernourished in 2030,” it says. In fact, the current rate of progress would not even be enough to eradicate hunger by 2050. Given the limited scope for expanding agriculture’s use of more land and water resources, the production increases needed to meet rising food demand will have to come mainly from improvements in productivity and resource-use efficiency, says FAO. However there are worrying signs that yield growth is leveling off for major crops. Since the 1990s, average increases in the yields of maize, rice, and wheat at the global level generally run just over 1 percent per annum, the report notes.
To tackle these and the other challenges outlined in the report, “business-as-usual” is not an option, The core challenge is to produce more with less, while preserving and enhancing the livelihoods of small-scale and family farmers, and ensuring access to food by the most vulnerable.  The world will need to shift to more sustainable food systems which make more efficient use of land, water and other inputs and sharply reduce their use of fossil fuels, leading to a drastic cut of agricultural green-house gas emissions, greater conservation of biodiversity, and a reduction of waste.
The FAO report identifies 15 trends and 10 challenges affecting the world’s food systems:
15 Trends:
• _A rapidly increasing world population marked by growth “hot spots,” urbanization, and aging
• _Diverse trends in economic growth, family incomes, agricultural investment, and economic inequality.
• _Greatly increased competition for natural resources
• _Climate change
• _Plateauing agricultural productivity
• _Increased conflicts, crises and natural disasters
• _Persistent poverty, inequality and food insecurity
• _Dietary transition affecting nutrition and health
• _Structural changes in economic systems and employment implications
• _Increased migration
• _Changing food systems and resulting impacts on farmers livelihoods
• _Persisting food losses and waste
• _New international governance mechanisms for responding to food and nutrition security issues
• _Changes in international financing for development.
10 Challenges:
_Sustainably improving agricultural productivity to meet increasing demand
• _Ensuring a sustainable natural resource base
• _Addressing climate change and intensification of natural hazards
• _Eradicating extreme poverty and reducing inequality
• _Ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition
• _Making food systems more efficient, inclusive and resilient
• _Improving income earning opportunities in rural areas and addressing the root causes of migration
• _Building resilience to protracted crises, disasters and conflicts
• _Preventing trans-boundary and emerging agriculture and food system threats
• _Addressing the need for coherent and effective national and international governance
 But from the past record of capitalism, we can only expect failure to achieve sustainable food production that provides for peoples' needs. Next month's issue of the Socialist Standard will go into more detail of how we can adequately feed the world. 

6 comments:

James Hadfield said...

im so happy spgb are moving to a sustainable.... / permaculture.... food systems....

ajohnstone said...

I think it is a bit premature for an organisation like ourselves of a few hundred to lay down world plans for the future generations who will have the task of implementing sound sustainable policies, James.

We do, of course, expect changes in food production to take place but as you know we cannot impose such trends as more vegetarianism and less meat-eating which would be crucial for a sustinable food supply. We also have an issue to resolve about the vast tracts of crop-land on the prairies, the pampas, and the steppes. How can these ever be returned to small-holdings or organic? I think it is presently out of the expertise of the SPGB to offer a solution. So our vision of lets wait and see, is the only choice right now.

James Hadfield said...

i reply to this - from above article -

To tackle these and the other challenges outlined in the report, “business-as-usual” is not an option, The core challenge is to produce more with less, while preserving and enhancing the livelihoods of small-scale and family farmers, and ensuring access to food by the most vulnerable. The world will need to shift to more sustainable food systems which make more efficient use of land, water and other inputs and sharply reduce their use of fossil fuels, leading to a drastic cut of agricultural green-house gas emissions, greater conservation of biodiversity, and a reduction of waste.

the earth sustains life on this planet.... - so being sustainable is absolute central....

ajohnstone said...

Your comment is the steady-state, zero-growth policy of the socialist alternative to capitalism's need for accumulation and expansion.

However, as an organisation of limited resources, we have no input in implementing such a proposal at the present time. When people and communities have the political power they can put an end to "business-as-usual" approaches to the environment.

We can, of course, voice support for those who are trying to resist the industrialised farming model, such those small farmers and peasants and activists opposing land-grab and the trans-national corporations - Big Ag.

Food democracy should feature more prominently in our general call for social democracy

James Hadfield said...

i don't understand your steady-state / social democracy comment

this makes sense -
We can, of course, voice support for those who are trying to resist the industrialised farming model, such those small farmers and peasants and activists opposing land-grab and the trans-national corporations - Big Ag....

ajohnstone said...

Steady state/Zero growth, just merely broadening the relationship that will have to exist inside socialism in our requirement for a sustainable ecological harmony.
We are a movement of movements and food democracy and industrial democracy will shelter under the umbrella of social democracy.
Our blogs SOYMB and African themed Socialist Banner often relays info on the peoples struggles against the land grabbing and imposition of corporate farming policies.They debate the viability of alternative farming methods to the chemical/commercial model.
But once again, it cannot be for a few hundred socialists at present to usurp the democracy of those who have the task of implementing socialism around the planet by decreeing what is acceptable and what is not acceptable food producing techniques. Horses for courses, no one size fits all, etc. etc.