Sustainable intensification of global agriculture is essential to feed the growing population.
Photo: FAO/R. Faidutti

08.03.2012

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With the world population set to exceed the nine-billion mark by 2050 in the not too distant future, a range of measures are becoming necessary to address the problem of sufficient food for all. At the same time, ecological threats to the planet are growing. Improved co-ordination of agricultural food security and climate change policy can help provided that a more focused food security strategy is in place.

The world’s population will reach 9.1 billion by 2050, 34 percent higher than today. The problem of feeding this massive population frequently grabs the headlines. The recent crisis in the Horn of Africa highlights the vulnerability of millions of poor people around the world. Further, as the global resource landscape shifts, there is growing apprehension that an era of sustained high resource prices and its related sustainability (environmental, social and economic) risk is likely to emerge. Thus, agriculture is under pressure due to the demand dynamics, supply factors and a few of the unsustainable features known to be associated with the sector. The challenge includes producing more food, fibre and fuel to feed an affluent population whose consumption patterns are dynamic. This has to be done with a smaller rural labour force and under the conditions of increasing competition for ecosystem services. Further, the challenge is to adapt to climate change, adopt efficient and sustainable production methods to scale and ensure that the poorest people are no longer hungry and micronutrient malnourishment is minimised.

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