Global food production has been assessed to rise by 70 percent by 2050 to cater for growth in world population of more than 30 percent. Sub-Saharan Africa’s population would grow the fastest (+114 percent) and East and Southeast Asia’s the slowest (+13 percent). Urbanization is foreseen to continue at an accelerating pace with urban areas to account for 70 percent of world population in 2050 (up from 49 percent at present) and rural population, after peaking sometime in the next decade, actually declining. At the same time, per capita incomes in 2050 are projected to be a multiple of today’s levels.
It is beyond any shade of doubt that global food security is one of the most pressing societal issues of our time. Though advances in agricultural technology and expertise will significantly increase the food production potential of many countries / regions, yet these advances will not increase production fast enough to meet the demands of the planet’s even faster-growing human population.
Are We In The Safe Zone??
Currently the world food situation is being rapidly redefined by new driving forces in as much as income growth, climate change, high energy prices, globalization and urbanization are transforming food consumption, production and markets. What is more: influence of the private sector in the world food system, especially the leverage of food retailers, is also rapidly increasing.
Obvious enough: changes in food availability, rising commodity prices and new producer–consumer linkages have crucial implications for the livelihoods of poor and food-insecure people. At the same time it is also critical for helping to appropriately adjust research agendas in agriculture, nutrition and health.
It is good to note that renewed global attention is being given to the role of agriculture and food in development policy, as can be seen from the World Bank’s World Development Report, accelerated public action in African agriculture under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the Asian Development Bank’s recent initiatives for more investment in agriculture, to name just a few.
Then what are the options / alternatives since tinkering around the present models only succeeded globally to an extent - leaving the gaps uncovered? Food aid to hunger though has a vital humanitarian role to play in countries which require assistance, yet is not a sustainable solution. One has to go deeper to explore how a food deficit country [e.g. Ethiopia, with more than 10 million people dependent on food assistance] can address its problems by relieving the food insecurity of other such countries.
It has been a fact that population pressures would continue to tip the balance against proper land and water management in many developing countries. While agricultural production is critical for any form of sustainable future, focusing on the agricultural sector alone without regard for other important factors which influence food production is not the right way. But here lies the problem with the developing block. Population programmes requires to be integrated into overall development objectives and be linked to other resource issues so that comprehensive development turns into reality. With falling per caput food production and resource degradation, the strategic plan is to be incorporated with population concerns [viz. population growth, distribution and rural-urban migration patterns incorporate population]. For that matter community development strategy which integrates essential social services as well as production resources is welcome.
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