By 2050 we’ll need to feed 2 billion more people….
So doing my normal rounds of research on the internet and stumbled on this really interesting article I thought I’d share. So here is a summary of the article….
According to the article, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet. The article proposes these 5 steps to feed the world and preserve the planet….
The trouble with Agriculture is…
Agriculture is one of the greatest contributors to global warming…emitting more greenhouse gases than all our cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes combined—largely from methane released by cattle and rice farms, nitrous oxide from fertilized fields, and carbon dioxide from the cutting of rain forests to grow crops or raise livestock.
Farming is the thirstiest user of our precious water supplies and a major polluter, as runoff from fertilizers and manure disrupts fragile lakes, rivers, and coastal ecosystems across the globe. Agriculture also accelerates the loss of biodiversity. As we’ve cleared areas of grassland and forest for farms, we’ve lost crucial habitat, making agriculture a major driver of wildlife extinction.
So how can the world double the availability of food while simultaneously cutting the environmental harm caused by agriculture? After the author and his team analyzed reams of data on agriculture and the environment, they proposed five steps that could solve the world’s food dilemma.
Step One: Freeze Agriculture’s Footprint
For most of history, whenever we’ve needed to produce more food, we’ve simply cut down forests or plowed grasslands to make more farms. Most of the land cleared for agriculture in the tropics does not contribute much to the world’s food security but is instead used to produce cattle, soybeans for livestock, timber, and palm oil. Avoiding further deforestation must be a top priority.
Step Two: Grow more on the Farms we’ve got
Starting in the 1960s, the green revolution increased yields in Asia and Latin America using better crop varieties and more fertilizer, irrigation, and machines—but with major environmental costs. The world can now turn its attention to increasing yields on less productive farmlands—especially in Africa, Latin America, and eastern Europe—where there are “yield gaps” between current production levels and those possible with improved farming practices. Using high-tech, precision farming systems, as well as approaches borrowed from organic farming, we could boost yields in these places several times over.
Step Three: Use Resources more Efficiently
The green revolution relied on the intensive—and unsustainable—use of water and fossil-fuel-based chemicals. But commercial farming has started to make huge strides, finding innovative ways to better target the application of fertilizers and pesticides by using computerized tractors equipped with advanced sensors and GPS. Many growers apply customized blends of fertilizer tailored to their exact soil conditions, which helps minimize the runoff of chemicals into nearby waterways.
Organic farming can also greatly reduce the use of water and chemicals—by incorporating cover crops, mulches, and compost to improve soil quality, conserve water, and build up nutrients. Many farmers have also gotten smarter about water, replacing inefficient irrigation systems with more precise methods, like subsurface drip irrigation. Advances in both conventional and organic farming can give us more “crop per drop” from our water and nutrients.
Step Four: Shifts Diets
It would be far easier to feed nine billion people by 2050 if more of the crops we grew ended up in human stomachs. Today only 55 percent of the world’s crop calories feed people directly; the rest are fed to livestock (about 36 percent) or turned into biofuels and industrial products (roughly 9 percent). Because people in developing countries are unlikely to eat less meat in the near future, given their newfound prosperity, we can first focus on countries that already have meat-rich diets. Curtailing the use of food crops for biofuels could also go a long way toward enhancing food availability.
Step Five: Reduce Waste
An estimated 25 percent of the world’s food calories and up to 50 percent of total food weight are lost or wasted before they can be consumed. In rich countries most of that waste occurs in homes, restaurants, or supermarkets. In poor countries food is often lost between the farmer and the market, due to unreliable storage and transportation.
Consumers in the developed world could reduce waste by taking such simple steps as serving smaller portions, eating leftovers, and encouraging cafeterias, restaurants, and supermarkets to develop waste-reducing measures. Of all of the options for boosting food availability, tackling waste would be one of the most effective.
In conclusion, taken together, these five steps could more than double the world’s food supplies and dramatically cut the environmental impact of agriculture worldwide. But it won’t be easy. These solutions require a big shift in thinking. We need to find a balance between producing more food and sustaining the planet for future generations.
Thanks for stopping by 🙂