Man’s ability to feed himself is in jeopardy due to intensifying pressures on natural resources, mounting inequality, and the fallout from a changing climate, acording to a report by FAO titled ‘The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges’.
Expanding food production and economic growth comes at a heavy cost to the natural environment. Almost one half of the forests that once covered the Earth are now gone. Groundwater sources are being depleted rapidly. Biodiversity has been deeply eroded. In his introduction to the report, FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva says the planetary boundaries may well be surpassed, if current trends continue.
According to the report, more people will be eating fewer cereals and larger amounts of meat, fruits, vegetables and processed food — a result of an ongoing global dietary transition. This will further add to those pressures, driving more deforestation, land degradation and greenhouse gas emissions. Major transformations in agricultural systems, rural economies and natural resource management will be needed if we are to meet the multiple challenges before us and realise the full potential of food and agriculture to ensure a secure and healthy future for all people and the entire planet. It warns that high-input, resource-intensive farming systems, which have caused massive deforestation, water scarcities, soil depletion and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, cannot deliver sustainable food and agricultural production.
According to the report, the world needs to shift to more sustainable food systems, which make more efficient use of land, water and other inputs. It also calls for a sharp reduction of fossil fuels use, leading to a drastic cut of agricultural green-house gas emissions, greater conservation of biodiversity and a reduction of waste.
Climate change will affect every aspect of food production. These include greater variability of precipitation and increases in the frequency of droughts and floods.
2030 is the year by which the new Sustainable Development Goals agenda has targeted the eradication of chronic food insecurity and malnutrition.
The report says that without a push to invest in and retool food systems, far too many people will still be hungry in 2030. Without additional efforts to promote pro-poor development, reduce inequalities and protect vulnerable people, more than 600 million people will still be undernourished in 2030. In fact, the current rate of progress would not even be enough to eradicate hunger by 2050.