Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Food Crisis

With up to one billion undernourished people around the world. Globally, more than 2 billion people suffer from a deficiency of micronutrients such as iron, zinc, and vitamin A essential for the functioning of human bodies and agriculture and land use systems increasingly vulnerable to climate change and land degradation change is of an urgency. 

Droughts caused by global warming could devastate up to 60% of the world's wheat fields by the end of the century, causing food shortages and instability, researchers warned. The world must prepare for "unprecedented" shocks to the production of the crop. Wheat, a key ingredient in everyday staples such as bread, noodles and cereals, provides nearly a fifth of calories consumed by humans globally. Even if the world manages to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F), the negative effects would still double between 2041 and 2070, they said, urging farmers to adapt by using water more efficiently and altering planting schedules. Africa would be the most affected region by the middle of the century, Petr Havlik, one of the authors, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.Africa is not a major wheat producer, but the crop provides 14% of the calories consumed by the continent's population.
Europe, the United States and Russia would also be severely hit, said Havlik, deputy director at Austria's International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Swapping fish for meat to help combat climate change risks exacerbating hunger in Africa, from where fish is increasingly exported to wealthy nations instead of providing key vitamins to malnourished local people, experts warned. popular fish such as sardines and mackerel are sourced from African countries that export most of their nutrient-rich catch instead of selling it to their own populations, said a paper published in the journal Nature.
Some consumers in rich countries are shunning meat in favour of other forms of protein, including lentils and fish, in order to reduce the amount of planet-warming greenhouse gases emitted by intensive livestock farming. A shift in diets would "serve to ... worsen the food and nutritional security of already vulnerable people in places such as West Africa, Asia and the Pacific", said Christina Hicks, the paper's lead author.

Globally, fish consumption is at an all-time high of 20.2 kg (44.5 lb) per person. The global fishing industry is worth $166 billion, and much of the fish on supermarket shelves in Europe and China comes from developing countries such as Namibia and Kiribati, which can export more than 90% of their fish catch.

The study found that across much of the tropics, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, some of the most nutritious species of fish such as anchovies are found in countries where citizens suffer from a lack of essential vitamins and minerals.

Yet "foreign fishing, illegal fishing, subsidies, prices, and trade all act to divert much-needed nutrients away from those in need,"said Hicks, a professor at Britain's Lancaster University. 

In Namibia, almost the entire population is estimated not to have an adequate intake of vitamin A, while in Mauritania, the same applies to nearly half of its people.

Even a small portion of the catch from their waters could go a long way towards combating malnutrition-related diseases in millions of people within 100 km (60 miles) of the sea, Hicks said.
One way forward is to reform international fishing policies so local governments require companies to divert a small portion of their catch into programmes for malnourished children, Hicks said.

In Mauritania, for example, foreign fishing makes up over 70% of the fish caught, much of which are highly nutritious species but are processed in-country to be used in aquaculture abroad, she said.
Countries could replicate projects under way in Bangladesh and Uganda where fish heads, bones and tails that are usually binned by factories are turned into fish powder that can be added to meals to boost nutrition, Hicks said.

Charlotte Ersboll, U.N. Global Compact Senior Advisor, citing a recent study by the organisation.
It’s very clear that despite all the excitement around SDGs it’s really very superficial what companies are doing.” She said that only 27 percent of companies where carrying sustainability through their supply chain.

Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Qu Dongyu called on the food industry to do more to support healthy foods and reduce food loss and waste.

Columbia University professor and Sustainable Development Solutions Network Director, Jeffrey Sachs, said, We know that agriculture is pushing against ecosystems all over the world to an absolutely shocking extent. ”We’re losing the ecosystem…” He explained, “We will not get sustainability on the planet, unless there’s co-responsibility,” he said. “We’re going to lose the resilience of the food sector itself if climate change, loss of biodiversity, destruction of land, scarcity of water continues the direction we’re going.”

Scarlett Benson, Associate presented the report “Growing Better: Ten Critical Transitions to Transform Food and Land Use”.
If we continue as we’re going, we’re going to deforest 400 million more hectares of natural ecosystem for agricultural land,” Benson said. “But if we can implement this reform agenda, we’ll actually save 1.2 billion hectares of land that is currently used for agriculture and that land will be available for return to nature so that will allow us to…achieve all biodiversity agenda.” She mentioned the part of the research that often garners a lot of attention is about freeing up land.
Because freeing up land, by changing our diets, by reducing food loss and weight and including agriculture productivity through better use of technology, actually enables us to use land more efficiently,” Benson said. Land has an opportunity cost and it is an asset for us,” she said.

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