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How to develop agriculture to feed the whole world

Agribusiness

How to develop agriculture to feed the whole world

By 2050 the total populace of the world will achieve 9.1 billion, 34 % higher than today. About the majority of this population increment will happen in developing countries. Urbanization will proceed at a quickened pace and around 70 per cent of the total population will be urban (FAO, 2009).

So as to encourage this bigger, increasingly urban and more extravagant population, production of food must be enhanced by 70 per cent. The yearly production of cereal should ascend to around 3 billion tons from 2.1 billion today and meat production should rise by more than 200 million tones to achieve 470 million tones (FAO, 2009).

But increasing production is not sufficient to achieve food security. It must be complemented by policies to enhance access by fighting poverty, especially in rural areas, as well as effective safety net programs.
Enhancement in 80 per cent of the production would originate from enhancement in cropping intensity and yields and just 20% from the expansion of arable land was observed in developing countries. Yet, the truth of the matter is that all around the world, percentage of yield and growth of crops has been consistently declining, it dropped from 3.2% every year in 1960 to 1.5% in 2000 (FAO, 2009).

The challenge for technology is to turn around this steadily decline since a nonstop straight increment in yields at a worldwide following the pattern established over the course of recent decades won’t be adequate to address sustenance issues or to meet the feed requirement of the world.
Interest and investment in R&D of agricultural keeps on being a standout amongst the most beneficial ventures, with rates of return of 30% and 75%.

It has been ignored mostly in under developing countries with low income. Currently, the public sector is dominated by research and development in agriculture in developing countries, so that additional investment must first come from government budgets. Increased private sector investment will require IPR issues to be addressed while ensuring a balance so that smallholder farmers’ access to new technologies is not reduced.

Hunger can continue to be in the midst of adequate overall supplies due to the lack of income opportunities for the poor and the absence of effective social safety nets. The experience of countries that have succeeded in reducing hunger and malnutrition shows that economic growth does not guarantee automatic success. The source of growth is also important. Emerging growth in agriculture, in particular, the smallholder sector, is at least double the benefit of the poorest of the poor, such as growth from non-agricultural sectors.

The fight against hunger also requires deliberate and deliberate action in the form of comprehensive social services, including food assistance, health and sanitation, as well as education and training, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable.

Many countries will continue depending on international trade to ensure their food security. There is a need to move towards a global trading system that is fair and competitive, and that contributes to a dependable market for food.

There is also a need to provide support and greater market access to developing country farmers so that they can compete on a more equal footing. Countries also need to consider joint measures to be better prepared for future shocks to the global system, through coordinated action in case of food crises, reform of trade rules, and joint finance to assist people affected by a new price spike or localized disasters.

Climate change and increased biofuel production represent major risks for long-term food security. Although countries in the Southern hemisphere are not the main originators of climate change, they may suffer the greatest share of damage in the form of declining yields and greater frequency of extreme weather events. Studies estimate that the aggregate negative impact of climate change on African agricultural output up to 2080-2100 could be between 15 and 30 per cent. Agriculture will have to adapt to climate change, but it can also help mitigate the effects of climate change, and useful synergies exist between adaptation and mitigation.

Future yield growth is essential to keep up with demand. Conventional breeding, the selection of best-performing crops based on genetic traits, accounted for around half of historical crop yield gains. New advances in molecular biology offer great promise for additional yield gains by making it cheaper and faster to map genetic codes of plants, test for desired DNA traits, purify crop strains, and turn genes on and off. Actions to take include significantly increasing public and private crop-breeding budgets.

Degraded soils, especially in Africa’s drylands, may affect one-quarter of the world’s cropland. Farmers can boost crop yields in degraded soils particularly drylands and areas with low carbon—by improving soil and water management practices. For example, agroforestry, or incorporating trees on farms and pastures, can help regenerate degraded land and boost yields. Trial sites in Zambia integrating Faidherbia albida trees yielded 88–190% more maize than sites without trees. Actions to take include increasing aid agencies’ support for rainwater harvesting, agroforestry and farmer-to-farmer education; and reforming tree-ownership laws that impede farmers’ adoption of agroforestry. Agencies can also experiment with programs that help farmers rebuild soil health.

Planting and harvesting existing croplands more frequently, either by reducing fallow land or by increasing “double cropping” (planting two crops in a field in the same year), can boost food production without requiring new land. Researchers should conduct more spatially explicit analyses to determine where cropping intensity increases are most feasible, factoring in water, emissions and other environmental constraints.

The 2014 Intergovernmental panel on climate change report projected that without adaptation, global crop yields will likely decline by at least 5% by 2050, with steeper declines by 2100. For example, growing seasons in much of sub-Saharan Africa are projected to be more than 20% shorter by 2100. A 10% decline in crop yields would increase the land gap by 45%.

Adaptation will require implementing other menu items, as well as breeding crops to cope with higher temperatures, establishing water conservation systems, and changing production systems where major climate changes will make it impossible to grow certain crops.

In some cases, the most efficient use of land may be to restore abandoned or unproductive agricultural lands back into forests or other natural habitats. This can help offset the inevitable expansion of agriculture into other areas. This should be limited to low productivity agricultural land with limited improvement potential, such as steeply sloping pastures in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest.

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