In a special photo-travelogue, Geoff Tansey explores China’s problems and solutions as a powerhouse of agricultural production.
Astounding 1600-year-old rice terraces, rapidly expanding cities, surprising labour shortages, huge organic vegetable production, small village plots, and much recent research science on soils, water and roots: my two trips to China had some of what I expected and much more that I didn’t.
A birth and bereavement gives food for thought. GFS Champion Tim Benton reflects.
Two recent events – the death of my father and the birth of a friend’s first child – have made me ponder about the course of a human life. In particular, for someone born now what will happen to the world during their lifetime?
During our debates over food security and climate change we often look ahead. But does the timescale we choose to look ahead matter? If so, is there one that resonates with sufficient power to promote action?
Continue reading Life, death and looking ahead
Agricultural markets in sub-Saharan Africa are fragmented for the people who need them most. Two new reports set out the solutions, says Michael Hoevel.
At the same time, across Africa it is estimated that 80% of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. Transforming this sector’s markets will not only help address food insecurity and undernutrition, but it can also unlock Africa’s trade and development potential more broadly, if implemented responsibly and sustainably.
Continue reading Linking African smallholder farmers to markets
Times have changed, and the world’s problems need a global vision for action, says the chair of the EU Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development Paolo de Castro.
The renewed position of food security at recent G8 and G20 Summits, from L’Aquila in 2009 (PDF) to Camp David in 2012, is an acknowledgement that a more sophisticated coordination at global level is needed to meet the new challenges, which are a sort of upside-down scenario in comparison to what prevailed in the last years of the 20th century, when food seemed relatively plentiful.
Continue reading The politics of food in the new scarcity
Tara Garnett tackles the thorny and complex issue of growing more with less.
‘Sustainable intensification’ is one of those phrases regularly bandied about in discussions about agriculture. What does it actually mean?
The shorthand definition: ‘producing more food with less negative impact’ – seems hard to dislike. But considering what it might mean in practice, all sorts of questions arise.
Does sustainable intensification imply a particular system or philosophy of agriculture? What about the ‘more food’ issue – how much more, what kind of food, produced where and for whom? How much weight does one attach to the ‘sustainable’ as opposed to the ‘intensification’ part? And what happens when ethical concerns such as animal welfare are added to the mix?
Continue reading The semantics of sustainability and food security
Improving post-harvest technologies will enhance food security and health, says Asgar Ali.
In the midst of a perpetual population boom and conscious awareness of the limited and diminishing resources such as land, fertilizers and water availability, how will governments, organizations and people respond? And how should they respond?
Significant effort has been dedicated at increasing agricultural productivity. But is it time to focus more on protetcing these gains from post-harvest losses?
Continue reading Grow not waste not
Richard Tiffin looks back on one food security meeting and ahead to another.
It was great to be invited to join in a fascinating discussion on ‘Navigating the ‘Perfect Storm’: the international challenge of food, water and energy security’ at the Royal Geographical Society supported by WWF last Thursday, 9 February.
Continue reading Navigating the perfect storm: optimism for Rio +20
Muhammad Akbar reviews the problems and potential of a populous food producing nation.
Agriculture plays a major role in Pakistan’s economy; it accounts for 21% of GDP and 45% of the workforce is employed in agriculture. But agriculture in Pakistan faces numerous difficulties and despite its importance to the country, food security is not guaranteed for significant portions of the country.
Pakistan’s population in 2011 was 177 million – the sixth largest in the world – and is predicted to reach 191.7 million by 2015. Yet the agriculture sector has been suffering from decline for the past three decades. Productivity remains low; yields per unit area are low, and critical investments in developing new plant varieties, farming technology and water infrastructure are not being made.
Continue reading Food security in Pakistan: past and present
The continent has the chance to shape its agricultural development differently, says Dr Robin R. Sanders.
Can sub Saharan Africa be the next bread basket for the world and help to address global food security issues?
The answer is yes; the challenge is how.
Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the developing world have a key role to play in deciding, shaping and leading food security policy for the coming decades. Why? Because of several key indicators that should not be either underestimated or overlooked: population, economic growth, water and land use in sub-Saharan Africa – what I like to call key impact indicators on food availability.
Sub-Saharan Africa has an opportunity to do things differently and earlier on its development and modernization life, something that few other world regions have today outside of Latin America.
Continue reading Raising sub-Saharan Africa’s profile on global food security issues (part one)
The UK has imported food for well over a thousand years. During the industrial revolution, we lost self-sufficiency in basic foodstuffs and have never regained it.
We have always been able to buy food from elsewhere and the global food market has become so efficient that the proportion of UK average income spent on food has fallen from 33% in 1957 to 15% in 2006. If food is cheap, reliable, safe and globally abundant, why should the UK worry about local production?
In my view, there are three main reasons why we should not assume that tomorrow will be the same as yesterday.
Continue reading Why should the UK grow food?