Food supply chains will get disrupted globally

Food supply chains will get disrupted globally

As Climate change could cause 29% spike in cereal prices: leaked UN report, because Food supply chains will get disrupted globally, the study warns. Report to be officially released in August informs Nitin Sethi, of New Delhi in this article of Business Standard.

As far as the MENA region is concerned, food has always been in short supply, but does this mean it would get worse.

FAO estimates higher cereal output

The report will be put before all member countries of the UN Framework Convention and once it gets their stamp of approval by consensus it will be made public on August 8. Photo: Representative Image

“The rate and geographic extent of global land and freshwater resources over recent decades is unprecedented in human history,” a report authored by UN’s panel of scientists from across the world on climate change is set to inform. Business Standard reviewed a leaked copy of the draft report sent to the governments of 197 countries. The report warns that as the global temperatures rise, the stress on land resources and its productivity is set to rise.

The report by the UN Inter-governmental panel on climate change, is called, “IPCC Special Report on Climate Change, Desertification, Land Degradation, Sustainable Land Management, Food Security, and Greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems.”

The report will be put before all member countries of the UN Framework Convention and once it gets their stamp of approval by consensus it will be made public on August 8.

The authors of the report, gleaning through state-of-art science research have concluded that, “Observed climate change is already affecting the four pillars of food security – availability, access, utilization, and stability – through increased temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and greater frequency of some extreme events.”

Continuing climate change is expected to further “create additional stresses on land systems exacerbating risks related to desertification, land degradation and food security,” the report says.

In a significant finding for countries such as India, the authors say, at global warming of 2° Celsius, the population of drylands exposed and vulnerable to water stress, increased drought intensity and habitat degradation could be as high as 522 million. Scientists conclude that at current levels of greenhouse gas emission reductions committed by the countries under Paris Agreement there is a good likelihood for the planet to breach the 2° Celsius temperature rise barrier.

“In drylands, desertification and climate change are projected to cause further reduction in crop and livestock productivity, modify the composition of plant species and reduce biological diversity,” research endorsed by the scientific panel shows.

Half of the vulnerable population due to the climate-change induced aridity would be in South Asia. The degradation of land due to climate change is already leading to consequent shaving off of the global economy, the scientific panel notes. “There are increasingly negative effects on GDP from impacts on land-based values and ecosystem service as temperature increases,” the report says. But, it notes that, at the regional level, the impacts would vary. “Compound extreme events, such as a heat wave within a drought or drought followed by extreme rainfall, will decrease gross primary productivity of lands, the authors warn

The impact on agriculture in higher latitudes is recorded to be different than in lower ones, such as one covering India. “Increasing temperature are affecting agricultural productivity in higher latitudes, raising yields of some crops such as maize, cotton, wheat, sugar beets, while in lower-latitude regions yields of crops such as maize, wheat and barley are declining.

Modelling results, that the scientific panel reviewed, show that cereal prices could rise by up to 29 per cent in 2050 due to climate change, which would impact consumers globally through higher food prices, though the impact would vary by regions. The stability of food supply is expected to decrease as the magnitude and frequency of extreme events caused by climate change increases, disrupting food chains globally.

The increase in global temperatures and consequent climate change is already affecting the productivity of livestock, which is one a main-stay of Indian rural economy. The authors conclude, “Observed impacts in pastoral systems include pasture declines, lower animal growth rates and productivity, damaged reproductive functions, increased pests and diseases, and loss of biodiversity.”

At the same time coastal economies are already suffering an impact as well. “Coastal erosion is affecting new regions as a result of interacting human drivers and climate change such as sea-level rise and impacts of changing cyclone paths,” though the scientists hold a low level confidence in the scientific research that concludes the impact of climate change on cyclone paths.

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Be adventurous in your tastes, local in your choices

Be adventurous in your tastes, local in your choices

We did query back in February 2019 Where does the MENA region’s food come from? We did, however, imply that the region’s countries, especially those with thick piles of cash, have to do their best to aim locally. In any case here is the latest on the issue that is applicable worldwide. Be adventurous in your tastes, local in your choices per the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

Calling all foodies: this one’s for you!

Gastronomy is a cultural expression of the world’s natural and cultural diversity. On June 18, we celebrate Sustainable Gastronomy Day and acknowledge that everyone plays a role in making sustainable choices for healthy diets and a food-secure future. @ Chompoo Suriyo/ shutterstock.com

Every year, June 18 marks Sustainable Gastronomy Day. This begs the questions:

  • 1) What in the world is sustainable gastronomy?
  • 2) Why is it important enough to have a “day” dedicated to it? and
  • 3) Even so, why should I care?

What is Sustainable Gastronomy? 

Gastronomy is sometimes called the art of food. It can also refer to a style of cooking from a particular region. In other words, gastronomy often refers to local food and cuisine. Sustainability is the idea that something (e.g. agriculture, fishing or even preparation of food) is done in a way that is not wasteful of our natural resources and can be continued into the future without being detrimental to our environment or health.

Sustainable gastronomy, therefore, means cuisine that takes into account where the ingredients are from, how the food is grown and how it gets to our markets and eventually to our plates. 

Why does it have a “day”?

Because eating local foods that have been produced sustainably makes a difference to people’s livelihoods, to the environment and to economies. By 2050, the world will have over 9 billion mouths to feed. Yet, 1/3 of all food produced is lost or wasted. As it stands now, we are using our oceans, forests and soils in largely unsustainable ways. We need to be more careful about how we use our natural resources as producers and we need to be pickier about how we choose our food as consumers.

By being open to locally grown foods and eating what is in season, you can help shift the buying patterns of local businesses, like restaurants and hotels, and support the area’s fishers and farmers. Left: ©Curioso/Shutterstock.com Right: ©Fundación CoMunidad/Alberto Pascual

Eating locally-grown products helps to boost an area’s economy, support its farmers and reduce the greenhouse gases and resources used in transporting food. Buying locally grown products means that there is demand for them and this helps farmers maintain their livelihoods. 

Why should I care?

Most of us care about food. Some of us REALLY care about food (We are talking to you foodies out there!). Caring about our local foods and markets means that we can help to preserve our culinary roots: the traditional crops, recipes and cultures from which these cuisines originate. It means that we are mindful of the resources that have gone into growing the food that we cherish and that we are helping to keep culinary traditions alive. 

As overweight and obesity rates soar worldwide, it is that much more important to ensure that healthy and sustainable diets are available and affordable to everyone. ©FAO/Sebastián Villar

By being open to locally grown foods and eating what is in season, you can help shift the buying patterns of local businesses, like restaurants and hotels, and support the area’s fishers and farmers. You can also expand your diet to include other traditional crops, like quinoa or cactus pear, that are full of vitamins and minerals.

What can I do?

1. Support your farmers: Go to local food markets. By buying from small producers or family farmers, you are supporting their livelihoods and strengthening communities. 

2. Try local foods in your travels: whether trying types of fish you have never heard of or fruits that you have never seen before, eating local products helps to give you a better insight into the culture of a place and supports local economies.

3. Keep culinary traditions alive! Culinary traditions are generally sustainable by nature and remind us of our ancestral roots. Try cooking recipes that use ingredients native to your region. Pulses, for example, are easy to grow and extremely nutritious.

4. Avoid food waste: While cooking, and even after your meal, be conscious to use all of your ingredients wisely and to save your leftovers. Being careful about portion size, expiration dates and reuse of meals is one of the easiest ways to save natural resources.

As overweight and obesity rates soar worldwide, it is that much more important to ensure that healthy and sustainable diets are available and affordable to everyone. We can all take action to achieve healthy diets and #ZeroHunger by 2030.

*This story is an update of one first published on 28 June 2017.

Land degradation impacting all Countries

Land degradation impacting all Countries

IPS News in their Combating Desertification and Drought in a post reproduced here holds that the issue of land degradation impacting all countries in all continents would require governments, land users and all different communities of a country to be part of the solution.

There’s No Continent, No Country Not Impacted by Land Degradation

By Desmond Brown

On all continents you have the issue of land degradation, and it requires governments, land users and all different communities in a country to be part of the solution. Credit: Albert Oppong-Ansah /IPS

ANKARA, Jun 17 2019 (IPS) – The coming decades will be crucial in shaping and implementing a transformative land agenda, according to a scientist at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) framework for Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN).

UNCCD-Science Policy Interface co-chair Dr. Mariam Akhtar-Schuster, who spoke with IPS ahead of the start of activities to mark World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) on Monday, Jun. 17, said this was one of the key messages emerging for policy- and other decision-makers.

This comes after the dire warnings in recent publications on desertification, land degradation and drought of the Global Land OutlookIntergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Assessment Report on Land Degradation and Restoration, World Atlas of Desertification, and IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

“The main message is: things are not improving. The issue of desertification is becoming clearer to different communities, but we now have to start implementing the knowledge that we already have to combat desertification,” Akhtar-Schuster told IPS.

“It’s not only technology that we have to implement, it is the policy level that has to develop a governance structure which supports sustainable land management practices.”

IPBES Science and Policy for People and Nature found that the biosphere and atmosphere, upon which humanity as a whole depends, have been deeply reconfigured by people.

The report shows that 75 percent of the land area is very significantly altered, 66 percent of the ocean area is experiencing increasing cumulative impacts, and 85 percent of the wetland area has been lost.

“There are of course areas which are harder hit; these are areas which are experiencing extreme drought which makes it even more difficult to sustainably use land resources,” Akhtar-Schuster said.

“On all continents you have the issue of land degradation, so there’s no continent, there’s no country which can just lean back and say this is not our issue. Everybody has to do something.”

Akhtar-Schuster said there is sufficient knowledge out there which already can support evidence-based implementation of technology so that at least land degradation does not continue.

While the information is available, Akhtar-Schuster said it requires governments, land users and all different communities in a country to be part of the solution.

“There is no top-down approach. You need the people on the ground, you need the people who generate knowledge and you need the policy makers to implement that knowledge. You need everybody,” the UNCCD-SPI co-chair said.

“Nobody in a community, in a social environment, can say this has nothing to do with me. We are all consumers of products which are generated from land. So, we in our daily lives – the way we eat, the way we dress ourselves – whatever we do has something to do with land, and we can take decisions which are more friendly to land than what we’re doing at the moment.”

UNCCD-Science Policy Interface co-chair Dr. Mariam Akhtar-Schuster says things are not improving and that the issue of desertification is becoming clearer to different communities. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

UNCCD Lead Scientist Dr. Barron Joseph Orr said it’s important to note that while the four major assessments were all done for different reasons, using different methodologies, they are all converging on very similar messages.

He said while in the past land degradation was seen as a problem in a place where there is overgrazing or poor management practices on agricultural lands, the reality is, that’s not influencing the change in land.

“What’s very different from the past is the rate of land transformation. The pace of that change is considerable, both in terms of conversion to farm land and conversion to built-up areas,” Orr told IPS.

“We’ve got a situation where 75 percent of the land surface of the earth has been transformed, and the demand for food is only going to go up between now and 2050 with the population growth expected to increase one to two billion people.”

That’s a significant jump. Our demand for energy that’s drawn from land, bio energy, or the need for land for solar and wind energy is only going to increase but these studies are making it clear that we are not optimising our use,” Orr added.

Like Akhtar-Schuster, Orr said it’s now public knowledge what tools are necessary to sustainably manage agricultural land, and to restore or rehabilitate land that has been degraded.

“We need better incentives for our farmers and ranchers to do the right thing on the landscape, we have to have stronger safeguards for tenures so that future generations can continue that stewardship of the land,” he added.

The international community adopted the Convention to Combat Desertification in Paris on Jun. 17, 1994.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Convention and the World Day to Combat Desertification in 2019 (#2019WDCD), UNCCD will look back and celebrate the 25 years of progress made by countries on sustainable land management.

At the same time, they will look at the broad picture of the next 25 years where they will achieve land degradation neutrality.

The anniversary campaign runs under the slogan “Let’s grow the future together,” with the global observance of WDCD and the 25th anniversary of the Convention on Jun. 17, hosted by the government of Turkey.

Related IPS Articles

Biodiversity, Climate Change, Combating Desertification and Drought, Conferences, Editors’ Choice, Featured, Global, Headlines, Regional Categories, Sustainability, TerraViva United Nations

Recommended reading

Despite a difficult business environment in Iran . . .

Despite a difficult business environment in Iran . . .

APO Group – Africa Newsroom / Press release informs that despite a difficult business environment in Iran . . . , 865 exhibitors from 21 countries present the entire value chain at Iran agrofood 2019. Here it is.

Despite difficult business environment in Iran, 865 exhibitors from 21 countries present the entire value chain at Iran AgroFood 2019

National pavilions of Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Russia and Turkey

TEHRAN, Islamic Republic of Iran, June 5, 2019/APO Group/ —

Despite the currently difficult business environment in Iran, as many as 865 exhibitors from 21 countries will be presenting their products, solutions and technologies “from field to fork” at iran agrofood 2019. More than 40,000 trade visitors from all over Iran and neighbouring countries are again expected. Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Russia and Turkey will be represented with official pavilions this year. iran agrofood consists of the five partial events iran agro, iran food + bev tec, iran bakery + confectionery, iran food ingredients and iran food + hospitality and has been organised by the German trade show specialists fairtrade (www.fairtrade-messe.de) and its Iranian partner Palar Samaneh (www.Palar-Samaneh.com). The 26th edition will take place from 18 to 21 June 2019 at the Teheran International Fairground.

The exhibitors come from Austria, Brazil, China, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Mongolia, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Seven official national pavilions

Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Russia and Turkey are present at iran agrofood 2019 with official national pavilions. The Netherlands and Switzerland are represented through stands of their embassies.

Following the successful participations in 2017 and 2018, Brazil will again be present this year with an official pavilion at iran food + hospitality, organised by the Brazilian Embassy in Tehran. 10 Brazilian companies will present the finest meat, coffee and food from Brazil.

China participates with 19 exhibitors at iran food ingredients, iran food + hospitality and iran food + bev tec.

The official German Pavilion is presented by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, in cooperation with the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA) and supported by VDMA Food Processing and Packaging Machinery. Altogether 15 German companies take part in iran food + bev tec & iran food ingredients.

Not less than 24 Indian exhibitors display their products at iran food ingredients & iran food + hospitality, supported by the India Trade Promotion Organisation ITPO, the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India ASSOCHAM, and the Cashew Export Promotion Council of India CEPCI.

For many years Italy has been one of the most important exhibitor nations at iran food + bev tec. While the Italian participation in recent years has been organized solely privately, the 2019 Italian participation featuring 22 Italian exhibitors is for the first time complemented by an official Italian pavilion with the support of the Italian Trade Agency ITA.

The Russian Federation presents itself for the first time at iran agro 2019 with two official pavilions. One from the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia’s most populous republic. And another from the Kabardino-Balkar Republic in the North Caucasus. Both pavilions are officially supported by the Russian Export Center. A total of 9 Russian exhibitors will present technologies for agriculture, milk production and water treatment.

As in previous years, Turkey will again be officially represented this year at iran food + bev tec & iran food + hospitality. The Turkish pavilion with 11 exhibitors is supported by the Turkish Ministry of Trade.

The 26th edition will take place from 18 to 21 June 2019 at the Teheran International Fairground

Iran agrofood 2019 presents the entire value chain “from field to fork”

Iran agro 2019 – The agricultural event within iran agrofood

At iran agro 2019, 51 exhibitors from 6 countries (http://bit.ly/2Z24ysG) present adapted technologies and solutions for the Iranian market in the fields of crop production, agricultural technology and animal husbandry.  

Iran food + bev tec & iran bakery + confectionery 2019

331 exhibitors from 12 countries (https://bitly.is/2WdkWEJ) take part in iran food + bev tec & iran bakery + confectionery, a who-is-who of the international elite of food, bakery + confectionery, beverage and packaging technology.

Iran food ingredients 2019

70 exhibitors from 11 countries (http://bit.ly/31cyNz2) participate at iran food ingredients 2019, including many of the world’s leading suppliers.

Iran food + hospitality 2019

413 exhibitors from 10 countries (http://bit.ly/2WJU4Ax) present all of their latest food & beverage products and food service equipment at Iran’s leading trade show.

For more information:

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Fairtrade Messe und Ausstellungs GmbH & Co. KG.

Pictures in high resolution can be requested by email.

Media Contact for Press:
fairtrade Messe GmbH & Co. KG
Ms Nadine Wagner
Public Relations
Kurfürsten-Anlage 36
D-69115 Heidelberg
Tel +49 / 62 21 / 45 65 22
n.wagner@fairtrade-messe.de
www.fairtrade-messe.de

Contact for Exhibitors:
fairtrade Messe GmbH & Co. KG
Mr Paul März
Project Management
Kurfürsten-Anlage 36
D-69115 Heidelberg
Tel +49 / 62 21 / 45 65 13
p.maerz@fairtrade-messe.de
www.fairtrade-messe.de

Contact Iran:
Palar Samaneh Co.
Ms Ladan Maleki
Apt.1, Amin Building (No.18) – Amini Alley
South Shiraz St.
Molasadra
IR – Tehran 14358-93681
Tel: +98 21 88 05 94 57
       +98 21 88 05 94 58
       +98 21 88 05 94 59
Fax: +98 21 88 04 48 17
palarsamaneh@gmail.com
www.Palar-Samaneh.com

fairtrade – Valuable business contacts:
fairtrade (www.fairtrade-messe.de) was founded by Martin März in 1991. Since long, fairtrade ranks among the leading organisers of professional international trade fairs in emerging markets, especially in North and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Managed by its shareholder and his son Paul März and committed to the values of a family business and the team spirit, fairtrade maintains a powerful network of partnerships throughout the world. fairtrade organizes shows in the sectors Agrofood, CIT Solutions, Energy, Industry and PlastPrintPack and strives for a high level of customer satisfaction.

By means of innovative products and excellent service fairtrade organizes professional platforms for valuable business contacts between exhibitors and visitors. fairtrade is a member of UFI The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry and AAXO The Association of African Exhibition Organisers. The management is ISO 9001:2015 certified.

Palar Samaneh:
Based in Tehran Palar Samaneh (www.Palar-Samaneh.com) has organised over 50 international trade fairs of major importance in Iran over the past 10 years. Having played an important role in the growth of the Iranian trade fair market, Palar Samaneh makes use of this knowledge for the benefit of its customers.

In addition to their exhibition organization department, its stand building unit serves individual exhibitors as well as country pavilions all over the Middle East and the CIS-countries.

Hunger continues to rise in the Near East and North Africa

Hunger continues to rise in the Near East and North Africa

Further to the article on the MENA wars over water, energy and food, here is the most obvious consequence as Around 52 million in Near East, North Africa, suffering chronic undernourishment, new UN food agency report reveals 

Hunger continues to rise in the Near East and North Africa region where over 52 million people are undernourished.

Conflicts and widening rural-urban gaps hamper the region’s efforts to end hunger by 2030.

Photo: ©FAO/ Louai Beshara
A child collects eggs in Al-Ghizlaniyah near Damascus. In Syria, FAO assists vulnerable communities to increase their dietary diversity and improve food and nutrition security through backyard poultry production.

8 May 2019, Cairo/Rome – Hunger in the Near East and North Africa region (NENA) continues to rise as conflicts and protracted crises have spread and worsened since 2011, threatening the region’s efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including Zero Hunger.

The Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in the Near East and North Africa, published today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), indicates that 52 million people in the region are suffering from chronic undernourishment. 

Conflict continues to be the main driver of hunger across the region.  More than two-thirds of hungry people in NENA, approximately 34 million people, live in conflict-affected countries, compared to 18 million hungry people in countries that are not impacted directly by conflict. 

Stunting, wasting, and undernutrition are also far worse in conflict countries than in the other countries. 

“Conflicts and civil instability have long-lasting impacts on the food and nutrition security of both affected and surrounding countries in the regions” said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa. 

“The impact of the conflict has been disrupting food and livestock production in some countries and consequently affecting the availability of food across the region,” he added. 

“Rising hunger is also compounded by rapid population growth, scarce and fragile natural resources, the growing threat of climate change, increasing unemployment rates, and diminished rural infrastructure and services” Ould Ahmed underscored.
The report highlights that the region is not facing just a hunger crisis as some of the highest rates of obesity are also found in countries within the region, putting pressure on people’s health, lifestyles and national health systems and economies.  Addressing obesity requires food systems that ensure that people have access to healthy nutritious food and also increased public awareness and information on the risks associated with overweight and obesity.

Inadequate rural transformation hampers efforts to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by 2030 

The report shows that not only do conflicts undermine the region’s Zero Hunger efforts, but also the degree of rural transformation. 

“Countries that are not in conflict and have gone furthest in transforming rural areas in a sustainable way including through better management of water resources, have achieved better food security and nutrition outcomes than those in conflict or with lower levels of rural transformation,” Ould Ahmed said, noting how the report stresses that more efforts are needed to boost rural employment, stimulate economic growth in rural areas, reduce urban-rural gaps, and improve agricultural productivity and rural infrastructure and services. 

The report highlights how unemployment, particularly for young people and women across all age groups is a significant challenge in the NENA region and is often higher than in other regions of the world. This is aggravated by rural-urban gaps – with significant disparities in living standards and poverty rates between rural and urban areas – and differences in labour productivity between traditional agriculture and industry and services. This gap is deepened by differences in access to education, health as well as other public services and housing.

At the same time, rural areas accommodate around 40 percent of the population, where the majority of poor are living. The report shows that the average wages for those employed in agriculture are likely to be far below those of workers outside the sector. Partially as a result of lower wages in agriculture, rural areas in the NENA region generally have higher income poverty rates than urban areas. On average, rural poverty is about twice as high as poverty in urban areas.

Transforming agriculture to achieve Zero Hunger

At a regional level, there are significant opportunities for transforming agriculture in a sustainable way, starting with the provision of  improved access to markets for farmers, promoting investments in agriculture, transfer of technology and other innovations, more efficient and effective management of water resources, as well as key policy changes that support the shift from subsistence farming to commercial and diversified production systems.

“There is a great need to encourage our region’s farmers to produce according to the comparative advantage of the region,” Ould Ahmed said, highlighting that the NENA region has a great potential in the production of crops and livestock products that are least intensive in arable land and water and more intensive in use of labour.

The report highlights that greater efforts and actions are needed to support the development and implementation of policies and programmes to abolish rural-urban differences. 

Key facts and figures

  • Number of hungry people in the Near East and North Africa: 52 million, 33.9 million are in conflict countries directly and 18.1 million in non-conflict countries.
  • Children under five affected by stunting (low height-for-age): 21.1 percent.
  • Children under five affected by wasting (low weight-for-height): 8.7 percent.
  • Children under five who are overweight (high weight-for-height): 9.1 percent

Note to editors: NENA countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Three ways cities can help feed the world . . .

Three ways cities can help feed the world . . .

In effect, three ways cities can help feed the world . . . without costing the Earth, per Silvio Caputo, University of Kent seem to be one of the few options remaining for life on earth to carry on.

Climate change is underway, and human activities such as urbanisation, industrialisation and food production are key contributors. Food production alone accounts for around 25% of global carbon emissions. Ironically, the changing weather patterns and more frequent extreme weather events resulting from climate change also put the world’s food supplies at risk.

Food production drives deforestation, meaning there are fewer trees to absorb carbon dioxide, which contributes to the greenhouse effect. What’s more, the fertilisers and pesticides used to protect crops have caused a dramatic decline in insect populations, and in soil fertility, by affecting the microbial organisms that enrich the soil and enable plants to gain nutrients.

At the same time, the world population is rising and there are expected to be more than 9.5 billion people on Earth by 2050. In response to these projections, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is campaigning for a 60% increase in food production by 2050, by intensifying agriculture to be more productive and use fewer resources, all without increasing the amount of farm land.

It’s not yet clear exactly how this “intensification” should happen. Alternative methods, such as organic farming, are respectful of soil ecology and insect life and can restore soil fertility. But they cannot, at present, produce as much food as industrial agriculture.

Organic produce: delicious, but not yet scalable. Shutterstock.

Yet the idea that we need more food is debatable. Although, according to the FAO, there are 821m people globally suffering from hunger, the world produces 50% more food than is needed to feed the global population. Another estimate from biologist and author Colin Tudge suggests that the current food production can feed as many as 14 billion people. But one third of this food is wasted because of distorted supply systems, unjust food distribution and unhealthy and unsustainable diets.

So, the efforts of experts in the food sector should not concentrate on agriculture intensification, but rather on strategies to change patterns of consumption and waste at a local and global level. My own research on urban agriculture and sustainable cities suggests there are three main areas where effective changes can be made.

1. Recycling food waste

Food consumption needs to become “circular”. This means that organic waste such as food scraps does not go to landfill, but is instead transformed into compost (which will be needed in a transition to organic agriculture) and biogas.


Read more:
Ugly veg: supermarkets aren’t the biggest food wasters – you are


At present, organic waste is only recycled to a small extent, with some countries such as Germany and the Netherlands leading, while others including Italy and Belgium lag behind. But there are new technologies emerging to make this process easier.

Waste not… Shutterstock.

For example, the Local Energy Adventure Partnership (LEAP) has created an anaerobic digester designed for an urban context: this machine can transform organic waste from residential or commercial buildings into compost and biogas that can fuel urban food growing.

Some experts also suggest that some food waste – if treated properly – could be used as animal fodder: a practice currently forbidden on hygiene grounds. If reinstated, this measure could reduce the environmental impact of grain cultivation, as less is grown to feed livestock.

2. Urban farming

Another option is to decrease demand for agricultural land by growing food in cities, where more people need it, thereby reducing the distances food has to travel. This would also allow producers to map and match consumers’ demand more effectively, by producing close to the places where food is consumed.

Vertical farming: on the up. Shutterstock.

There is a lot of research on urban agriculture and how cities can support it, spanning from vertical farms – hydroponic systems enabling cultivation on vertical surfaces – to principles for planning cities that facilitate the use of land, rooftops and other spaces to grow food into a continuous green infrastructure.


Read more:
How urban farmers are learning to grow food without soil or natural light


In this area, too, it’s possible to find innovations designed to make urban farming easier and more sustainable. For example, The Farmhouse is a modular housing system suitable for vertical stacking that enables all residents to grow food. And Blockchain Domes is a patented system that uses excess heat from computer servers to provide optimal thermal conditions for greenhouses in colder climates.

3. Changing diets

The third option is to encourage people to change their diets. Growing middle-income groups in developing countries are consuming ever higher quantities of meat, cheese and eggs. In China, since 1990, consumption of beef and poultry has quadrupled. But the diet of farmed animals is heavy in grains, which instead could be used to feed people more efficiently. Also, cattle farming requires vast quantities of water and grassland, sometimes obtained through deforestation.

Getting people to eat less meat will help to ease the pressure on the world’s food system. In cities, governments, research institutions, communities and businesses can collaborate on food initiatives to give people healthier, cheaper and more sustainable choices – but this requires political will and organisation between different levels of government.


Read more:
Bug burgers, anyone? Why we’re opening the UK’s first insect restaurant


Clearly, each of these approaches has a limited scope of action, compared to agricultural techniques or strategies which can be deployed at an industrial level. But with so many promising proposals, there can be a many-pronged approach that that makes efficient use of the existing resources in cities, while also changing consumers’ habits. Together with these three changes, more effective policies for food justice and sovereignty can establish fairer food supply chains and more just distribution of food around the world.The Conversation

Silvio Caputo, Senior Lecturer, University of Kent

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
The Conversation