Eight ways to halt a global food crisis

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Posted by admin | Posted in Agri Knowledge, Farming | Posted on 15-07-2019

Stockr/Shutterstock.com

Michael Hamm, University of Oxford

There are serious challenges to global food supply everywhere we look. Intensive use of fertilisers in the US Midwest is causing nutrients to run off into rivers and streams, degrading the water quality and causing a Connecticut-size dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Chocolate production will soon be challenged in West Africa – home to over half of global production. A variety of nutritional impacts are predicted due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide – including decreased protein content in food, which has a potential to exacerbate malnutrition. And this is just a very small sample of the risks to the food supply chain that are foreseen.

The future of food then, may sound rather bleak. But this does not have to be the case. The food system could become part of the solution for environmental challenges, if we make some changes to it. It could also be an instrument of human health, well-being, dignity, and livelihood – rather than the opposite. Read the rest of this entry »

Synchronizing food production can have disastrous effects

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Posted by admin | Posted in Agri Knowledge, Climate Change, Food Security | Posted on 03-05-2019

Global synchronization of food production negatively impacts food security. Shutterstock

Zia Mehrabi, University of British Columbia and Navin Ramankutty, University of British Columbia

Crop failures are an important cause of food price spikes, conflict and food insecurity. The likelihood of local crop failures being catastrophic at the global level is exacerbated when they happen at the same time — that is, when our agricultural systems become more synchronized.

In a paper in Nature Ecology and Evolution, we show that while some crops such as maize and soybean have become less synchronized in recent decades (a seemingly good news story), the synchronization of production between crops increased overall. This has, in turn, destabilized our total global calorie supply.

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Why developing countries should boost the ways of small-scale farming

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Posted by admin | Posted in Agri Extension, Agri Knowledge, Climate Change, Food Security | Posted on 02-09-2018

A diversity of seeds on sale in Nanyuki market, Kenya. K Dekeyser

Rachel Wynberg, University of Cape Town and Laura Pereira, Stellenbosch University

Industrial agriculture – farming that involves the intensive production of livestock, poultry, fish and crops – is one of the most environmentally destructive forms of land use. It depends on mechanisation and on inputs like synthetic fertiliser and harmful pesticides and herbicides and has led to widespread contamination of soil and water. It also relies on just a few major crops like wheat, maize, soybean and rice, the seeds of which are owned by a mere handful of companies.

A different approach to agriculture is sorely needed. This should, ideally, deliver household food security, ensure sustainable livelihoods and produce quality nutrition in a rapidly changing climate.

Developing countries that are industrialising at a pace are uniquely placed to avoid developing a dependency on one type of technological innovation at the expense of others. This is what is known as technological lock-in, with industrial agriculture being one form of lock-in. Such countries are also well placed to establish alternative ways to grow food that maximise livelihoods and sustainable food production. Read the rest of this entry »

Healthy soil is the real key to feeding the world

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Posted by admin | Posted in Agri Knowledge, Farming, Food Security | Posted on 03-04-2018

 Planting a diverse blend of crops and cover crops, and not tilling, helps promote soil health.
Catherine Ulitsky, USDA/Flickr, CC BY

David R. Montgomery, University of Washington

One of the biggest modern myths about agriculture is that organic farming is inherently sustainable. It can be, but it isn’t necessarily. After all, soil erosion from chemical-free tilled fields undermined the Roman Empire and other ancient societies around the world. Other agricultural myths hinder recognizing the potential to restore degraded soils to feed the world using fewer agrochemicals.

When I embarked on a six-month trip to visit farms around the world to research my forthcoming book, “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” the innovative farmers I met showed me that regenerative farming practices can restore the world’s agricultural soils. In both the developed and developing worlds, these farmers rapidly rebuilt the fertility of their degraded soil, which then allowed them to maintain high yields using far less fertilizer and fewer pesticides. Read the rest of this entry »