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‘Sustainable transition in agriculture is not a luxury, but a necessity’

The agricultural sector should be more produce and at the same time less pressure on the environment to exercise in the future the world’s population can continue to feed. That set up the United Nations in a new report.

A farmer at work in a cactusplantage in Pocinhos, Brazil. © REUTERS

Although in the past thirty years, considerable progress has been made in the fight against hunger in the world, “brings the increased food production and economic growth high cost for the environment”, in the recently published report The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges.

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“We need an agricultural sector develop better withstand climate change”

The ability of mankind to find themselves in the future to be able to continue to feed, is in danger due to growing pressure on nature, social inequality and climate change.

“Almost half of the forests that the earth ever had, has disappeared. Groundwater resources may quickly become empty and the biodiversity is highly degraded. If that trend continues, we can planetary boundaries”, says José Graziano da Silva, director of the UN Food and Agriculture organization (FAO).

Another diet

By 2050, has the earth are likely to be nearly 10 billion people. In a scenario with moderate economic growth, this increase of the population the demand for agricultural products with a 50 percent increase compared to the current level. This grows the pressure on natural resources which are already heavy. At the same time, fewer grains, eat more meat, fruit, vegetables and processed food, says the report. That is the result of a global shift in diet that the press continue to perform and leads to deforestation, land degradation and emission of greenhouse gases.

In addition, it also plays the climate change. “That has affected every aspect of food production”, write the authors of the report. The warming of the earth leads to unpredictable rainfall and more drought and floods.

Transformation

The main research question of the FAO report, is whether the agricultural and food systems in the world are capable of on a sustainable basis to meet the needs of the growing world population.

Natan Cabral, 5 and child of farmers, looks at the floor of the almost empty Boqueirao reservoir. The result of five years of drought. © REUTERS

The answer to the question is, according to the FAO, ‘yes’. There may be enough food produced in a sustainable manner. But to that potential, is a major transformation is required. If not invested in (re) systems, there will be in 2030, still far too many people are suffering from hunger. The Sustainable development Goals (SDG’s) of the UN strive to be in 2030, an end to food insecurity and malnutrition.

“Without additional efforts to development for the poor, to promote inequality, to reducing and vulnerable people to protect, will be in 2030 is still more than 600 million people are malnourished”, is in the report. With the current progress, it is not even possible famine by 2050 to eradicate.

The answer to the growing demand for food must be according to the FAO, mainly come from improved production methods and more efficient use of resources, because the amount of land and water resources are limited.

Figures indicate, however, that the growth of the production for some key crops are leveling off. Since the nineties, increasing the yield of corn, rice and grain worldwide, with slightly more than 1 percent per year. Business-as-usual is therefore not an option, suggest the authors. “Agriculture is that massive deforestation, water shortage, soil depletion and high CO2 emissions, the cause may not lead to sustainable food production.”

More with less

The main challenge is to produce more with less, and at the same time, the inkomsen of small-scale businesses to improve and the most vulnerable of food. “This is a two-track approach is needed. There must both be invested in social protection to immediately do something about malnutrition – as in the manufacturing activities, that the income of the poor increase.”

Heleno Campos Ferreira, 65, is resting after the work. A lot of Brazilian farmers suffering under a prolonged drought. © REUTERS

To come to an agricultural sector that is less land, water and other input needs, should also be invested in research, development and innovation. “We have an agricultural sector to develop more resistant to climate change,” says Kostas Stamoulis, deputy FAO-director for Economy and Social Development, and one of the authors of the study. (IPS)

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