Latest update: 23/11/2009
- agriculture - food aid - food safety
How to feed the world
One in six of the world’s population lives in dire hunger according to the latest figures released by the United Nations. Environment looks at the issue of food and land use to see how, if at all, hunger can be eradicated.
By Eve IRVINE
The UN Food Summit in Rome announced that one sixth of the population was suffering from hunger. The challenge the UN notes isn’t just about feeding the people of today but also ensuring nourishment for a world population that is expected to top 9 billion by 2050.
Last years surge in food prices sparked riots in more than a dozen countries from Ivory Coast to Haiti. The UN warns, all the elements that led to last years food riots remain in place and all that is needed is a tiny spark to get them going again.
Prices for wheat, which supplies about 20 percent of food calories consumed in the world, more than doubled between the start of 2007 and a peak in March 2008. Soaring energy prices boosted costs of fertilizer and transport while also lifting demand for grain-based alternative fuels like ethanol. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi today also cited market speculation as a reason for the jump in food prices.
In France, which is the European Unions biggest agricultural producer, the volatility of the price of primary products such as milk has led to a crisis in the sector.
The real problem leaders at the summit in Rome said is not the lack of food production but the fact that it's not being produced where it’s needed - in the countries where 70 percent of the world's poor live.
In Pakistan one quarter of the population is said to suffer from hunger every day and yet the government is planning to lease land to Saudi Arabia which would be used to produce food for the Saudi market. Authorities say the extra funding will help poverty and hunger but local farmers are not convinced.
Oxfam and ActionAid say the best way to reduce the number of hungry is to target resources on small farming families, who make up a third of the worlds population, FAO estimates.
In Kenya the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, or AGRA is a program that promotes crop breeding, soil management and agricultural education. Its goal is to ensure the food security and prosperity by concentrating on small, local farmers.