World’s ability to feed itself in jeopardy, FAO warns

World’s ability to feed itself in jeopardy, FAO warns

Thursday, February 23, 2017 10:17 am

foodstuffs on display in a market in Nigeria.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that the world will have trouble feeding itself in decades to come unless countries undertake “major transformations” to the way they grow and distribute food.

FAO, in a report “The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges” that paints a bleak and hungry future, on Wednesday, said because of growing global population, the world would have 10 billion mouths to feed in 2050 compared to the current 7.3 billion.

FAO Director-General José da Silva, underlining the gravity of the situation, said: “Almost half of the forests that once covered the earth are now gone.

“Groundwater sources are being depleted rapidly. Biodiversity has been deeply eroded. As a result, planetary boundaries may well be surpassed, if current trends continue.

“With global population estimated to reach 10 billion by 2050, world-wide demand for agricultural products could be pushed by as much as 50 per cent above current levels, intensifying pressures on already-strained natural resources,” Da Silva warned .

At the same time, the report argues, greater numbers of people will be eating fewer cereals and larger amounts of meat, fruits, vegetables and processed food, a result of an ongoing global dietary transition that will further add to those pressures, driving more deforestation, land degradation and greenhouse gas emissions.

According to FAO, without a push to invest in and reorganising food systems, far too many people will remain hungry in 2030, the year by which the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to eradicate chronic food insecurity and malnutrition.

“Without additional efforts to promote pro-poor development, reduce inequalities and protect vulnerable people, more than 600 million people would still be undernourished in 2030.

“In fact, the current rate of progress would not even be enough to eradicate hunger by 2050, the report added.

On top of these challenges, climate change adds a new level of complexity as it would affect every aspect of food production.

“Its increasing impacts are leading to greater variability of precipitation and increasing the frequency of droughts and floods.

“In the midst of this multifaceted issue, the UN agency is advocating for a shift to more sustainable food systems that make more efficient use of land, water and other inputs, and for sharply reducing the use of fossil fuels in agriculture.”

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