Over the past 50 years or so, agricultural production has grown tremendously to optimize crop yields given the need to feed the planet’s entire population
Is this overproduction really contributing to the reduction of world hunger?
- Resource scarcity
- Land degradation
- Increased global under-nutrition
- Poor living conditions for small farmers
It is essential to make efficient production and consumption decisions now.
Though people’ s awareness has been increasing over the recent years, with the emergence of organic farming for instance, which is not only more respectful of biodiversity, of our land but also of our health, and the cessation of chemicals use: this is not affordable for all.
GENEVA FORUM weekly schedule: Main topics for the Agriculture and Nutrition theme
|Agriculture and Nutrition Morning||Focus on Nature Rights - Legal||Focus on Responsible Finances||Focus on Conflict Mediation|
|Agriculture and Nutrition Afternoon||Focus on Sustainable Tourism||Focus on Nature Rights – Projects||Focus on Civic Sciences||Focus on Education|
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As early as the 12th century, there was already a desire to increase agricultural production and turn farming into a source of income: using horses, fertilizing plants…With the 1750 industrial revolution in England, low-cost food in cities increased, small farmers who could not afford to expand their production fell into poverty and malnutrition began to spread. With the population’s exponential growth around 1850, scientific and technological advances became a priority for researchers and politicians aiming to feed the ever growing population : this marked the beginning of the science Science La science est désormais l’affaire de tous. Découvrez la science d’une manière ludique et active. Nous vous proposons d’en découvrir plus sur nos expéditions à la voile, découverte du plancton. -based agriculture, which notably brought down the level of small farmers.
Population growth, urbanization and higher incomes has also driven the increased world demand for food, especially in developing and least developed countries. Despite the recent awareness that action is urgently needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, tackling climate change and halting the massive depletion of our natural resources, we unfortunately remain in a pattern of over-production and chemical use which does not solve the problems of global hunger, caused by excessive disparity rather than lack of food. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), some 821 million people were undernourished in 2018, and this number has been rising for the past five years: this is a representation of both inefficiency and resource shortage for the many organizations dedicated to the fight against this problem, such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
In addition to the above-mentioned problem, we must keep in mind that food over-production is also an extremely resource-consuming and environmentally destructive process. Many natural sites are being destroyed for resource extraction, crop cultivation or intensive animal husbandry. As a result, lands are dried up and contaminated, forests are cut down, the climate is disrupted by massive greenhouse gas emissions (especially methane emissions from cattle) and water is polluted. Moreover, such production and consumption patterns are damaging to our health! We can no longer tell where our food comes from, if we eat seasonal products, we buy more than we need, consume disproportionately to our activity and waste massively. This final point is a major contemporary challenge: reduced waste would help lower production costs, promote environmental sustainability and improve food security
People, businesses and the international communities have all become accustomed to comfort and convenience. This makes policy making and implementation on this matter very difficult. A clear political, legal and juridical structure has to be defined, taking into account the different impacts of our lifestyle and attitudes towards nature: greenhouse gas emissions, pressure on land and water resources. It is also crucial to find out at what point in the food chain waste, over-extraction of resources, excessive energy consumption and unequal redistribution are occuring. In addition, low-cost and efficient solutions are needed all around the planet; unfortunately, good conscience and respect for nature are not enough for everyone. There is a need to establish real consensus and agreements within the international community while improving data collection capacity, resources, compliance implementation as well as monitoring and evaluation.
These policies are essential for farmers and consumers to adopt better practices: respectful and accountable with a small environmental footprint. For example, with the gradual elimination of chemical and harmful products, allowing wastewater to be recycled, as it could remain in the soil and be used to cool it down: which, at the global level, would have a large and positive impact on climate change. Again, in order to change behaviour and collective mindsets, there is a need for education on how to sustainably consume and produce by, for example, putting in place sustainable and inclusive food systems.
As the population and average incomes rise, there will be even greater strain on the planet’s natural resources. It is only with the active contribution of the agriculture and food sectors, as well as local, national and international communities, that climate change, land, water, resource depletion and nutrition issues will be reasonably contained.
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