A global food crisis looms and urgent attention is required if this grim situation is to be averted. The cause of the crisis, although complex in nature, can be put down to four interwoven developments:
Continued low agricultural productivity in the world’s poorer countries as a result of their inability to pay for seeds and expensive fertilizers.
Climate change impact on agriculture and the world’s food supply
Escalating population growth resulting in increased demand for food
Policies sanctioned by industrialized economies in subsidizing the diversion of food crops in the production of biofuels.
Concerted effort in finding innovative viable solutions is required and time is of the essence if this grim potential for disaster is to be averted. Meeting food security needs is attainable if necessary investment and policies conducive to increased agricultural production are established.
The agricultural success evidenced in Malawi in 2005 need to be utilized and developed upon in order to be duplicated. An amazing feat resulted after special funding in aid for farmers to acquire fertilizer and high-yielding seeds was instituted; Malawi’s harvest increased two-fold in as little as one year. The Malawi model combined with further research and development could provide an effective solution to meeting increasing demands for food and fighting world hunger.
The solutions to solving the agricultural challenges in developing countries and to meeting food security lie in investment, and not only of the monetary kind. Agriculture in the developing world is in dire need of an injection of funds and new technology if food security is to be met. Rising farmland, increase in diseases (insect and plant) and drought are just some of the challenges faced by farmers in poorer regions of the world such as Africa and Asia. These challenges can be counter measured by increased fertilizer and more efficient water usage through irrigation. Technologies developed through the Green Revolution have shown to increase yields in agricultural production.
The solution to achieving food security does not just lie in increasing food production. Sustainable agricultural practice must be complemented with policies that seek to eradicate poverty (especially in rural areas).
Agriculture in developing countries is the key and must become a top priority. Developing countries are required to look at budget reallocation. A policy which support farmers and encourage investment in agriculture is needed. Developing countries have to shift focus to infrastructure and investment in the right direction like agricultural production development and not social welfare schemes. Governmental interventions like subsidized farming (easier access to finance, improved infrastructure, and protection from imports and subsidization) need to be considered. Boosting agricultural production through innovative agricultural technology remains an effective method such as what AGRA sanctions.
Adaptive measures to counteract climate change are needed. Climate change and biofuel production has serious implications for food security. Food-based biofuel production initiates a competition between food and fuel for scarce resources such as water and land (which could otherwise be used for crop production). Policies which support and promote the use of food-based biofuel production need to be reexamined and discouraged.
The Green Revolution remains a sustainable option to obtaining food security and building on its strengths is encouraged. The research and development invested in higher yield variety (HYVs) seeds technology has multiple benefits including an increase in agricultural output complemented by improved nutrition, increased income and lower prices. A positive off spin of the Green Revolution is the impact on the environment. Higher yielding crops allow for the protection of land otherwise to be appropriated for farming.
Meeting food security needs are two-pronged. It is a function not only of food production, but of efficient use of energy as well. Food energy effectiveness is minimizing the loss of energy in food from harvesting through to actual consumption and recycling. The maximum effectiveness of this food process results in a healthier impact on the environment.
It is positive to note the commitment by leading world economies to support and encourage agricultural development in developing countries in Africa and Asia and the sense of urgency that is felt. Renewed focus on agriculture is essential as farming is seen as crucial for the improvement of the world’s poor.