Climate change may have already begun to take its toll of agriculture. New research suggests that drought and extreme heat in the last 50 years have reduced cereal production by up to 10%. And, for once, developed nations may have sustained greater losses than developing nations.
The Green Revolution of the 1960s prevented mass starvation in the developing world. Just as deep fear was taking hold among economists and demographers that food production wouldn’t keep up with global population growth, the effects of technological advances solved the problem. The microbiologist and geneticist Norman E. Borlaug developed a high-yield, disease-resistant wheat plant, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. Work at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines radically improved grain productivity. As a result of these and related advances, wheat and rice yields in Asia doubled from the 1960s to the 1990s, and grain prices fell even though the Asian population grew by 60 percent.
International food commodity prices continued to decline in August as ample supplies, a slump in energy prices and concerns over China's economic slowdown all contributed to the sharpest fall of the FAO Food Price Index in almost seven years.
In 2007, drought struck the bread baskets of Europe, Russia, Canada, and Australia. Global grain stocks were already scant, so wheat prices began to rise rapidly. When countries put up trade barriers to keep their own harvests from being exported, prices doubled, according to an index of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Just 3 years later, another spike in food prices contributed to the Arab Spring uprisings.
Syria's food production has increased this year mainly due to favourable rains, but it remains way below its pre-crisis levels as the ongoing conflict continues to push more people into hunger and poverty, according to a report published today by two UN agencies.
Organic food has acquired the taste of success. While still a tiny portion of food production overall, organic products have gotten more space on supermarket shelves in recent years. Stores and restaurants that specialize in organic food have grown in popularity. Farmers and others who grow and process organics have been reporting big increases in demand and sales.
Favorable worldwide conditions for cereal crops will lead to better-than-expected production this growing season at the global level, despite continuing apprehension over El Niño. But concerns are growing over a sharp shortfall in maize grown in sub-Saharan Africa as well as poor production in other food insecure hotspot areas.
Today, 795 million people around the world do not have access to a sufficient supply of safe and nutritious food. The United Nations estimates that worldwide demand for food will increase 70 percent by 2050. To meet this need, production in developing countries will need to almost double.
Agricultural yields could more than triple in a number of African countries, suggesting that tremendous improvements in food security are possible, according to new findings by the Global Yield Gap and Water Productivity Atlas.
Today, one in nine of the world’s 7.3 billion people — more than 800 million men, women and children — don’t get enough to eat, despite the fact that more than enough food is produced daily to feed everyone on Earth (at least based on calories).
When droughts or crop failures cause food prices to spike, many Americans hardly notice. The average American, after all, spends just 6.5 percent of his or her household budget on food consumed at home. (If you include eating out, that rises to around 11 percent.)
Two items crossed my desk recently that were so fundamentally opposite in their visions of the future that it was enough to give a reader whiplash. The first was the 2012 book Abundance, the optimistic paen to entrepreneurs, inventors and Silicon Valley gazillionaires written by X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis and science journalist Steven Kotler. The authors claim that the exponential growth of technology will solve all the world's ills, and, "within a generation ... provide goods and services, once reserved for the wealthy few, to any and all who need them." Poo-burning toilets, refrigerator-sized water purifiers, portable nuclear power plants, algae biofuels and skyscraper greenhouses capable of feeding the world's 800 million hungry, among many other gadgets, they contend, are just around the corner and, within 25 years, will create a techno-utopian world.
The United Nations predicted earlier this year that world population, today at 7.2 billion, will increase to 9.6 billion by 2050, with the largest growth projected in developing countries including India and within Africa.
Highlighting the historic opportunity to become the "Zero Hunger generation", FAO Director-General José Graziano Da Silva called for additional investments in social protection and rural development at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today.
The phrase ‘gore rezhara’ or ‘umyaka wendlala’ – the year of famine – is familiar with most Zimbabweans of my age. Up until the late 1970s, our grandparents and parents tended to calibrate historical eras with ‘landmarks’ of years when hunger and famine were at their worst. Massive national food deficits especially in vulnerable regions like Matabeleland, the Midlands, Masvingo and some parts of Mashonaland West were a common phenomenon. Yet, it was very rare to hear of anyone dying of starvation. - See more at: http://www.zimeye.com/why-zimbabweans-are-always-short-of-food/#sthash.KuuWNGK6.dpuf
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