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The population is growing and so is its demand for food to fuel those extra bodies. Harvard Business Review reports the global population has quadrupled over the last century. It’s predicted that, by 2050, the population will exceed 9 billion people.
The world is not able to feed all of its inhabitants, according to Penn State. There are more than one billion people who are estimated to lack sufficient food, and 2 billion who do not receive adequate nutrition. Researchers from the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota concluded that, to feed the world by 2030, yields on maize, rice, wheat and soybeans will have to rise by 60% to 110%. At the start of 2023, projections show them only increasing by 45% to 60%. There are a few reasons why food supply may not meet up with demand.
•Climate change: Climate change is predicted to cause issues to crop yields, especially in portions of the world where the population is growing the fastest. For example, a recent NASA study published in the journal Nature predicts that high greenhouse gas emissions may cause corn output to decline as early as 2030, but wheat output would increase. Farmers may need to roll with the punches and shift operations to cope with the environmental changes.
•Decreased commercial farming interest: Fewer people are working in farming. Land prices for expansion, new government mandates and regulations, and the impact of immigration and trade policies have made farming less attractive than it once was. Fewer commercial operations result in a diminished food commodity output.
•Consumer waste: Food loss and waste (FLW) is a widespread issue, posing a challenge to food security. The World Bank estimates 30% of all food across the globe is wasted, amounting to 1.3 billion tons of food per year. The average global household wastes 74 kg of food each year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme’s 2021 Food Waste Index. Food waste is an issue that needs a solution as the world looks for ways to feed an expanding population in the decades to come.
In order to improve output, farmers have to make some changes. These can include investment in tools and technologies that enable farmers to apply nutrients more precisely and at lower cost, advises the Environmental Defense Fund. Seeds that need less water and fewer nutrients, as well as new fertilizers that are less likely to be lost to air and water, are some additional ideas. Farmers also may want to employ green practices, such as hydroponics and drip irrigation, if they haven’t already, to improve efficiency and cut costs. The public also may need to petition their lawmakers to make it easier for farm workers arriving on working visas to man the fields.
Food demand continues to rise, and it has become challenging for agricultural operations to keep up.