How can agriculture feed the world


To truly feed the world, we’re going to need more foods that provide complete nutrition and more farmers to grow it. Currently, our food system overproduces grains, fats, and sugars and underproduces the vitamins, minerals, and proteins vital for human health.


Can organic agriculture feed the world?

Organic agriculture practices are often blamed for being unsustainable and not able to feed the world. In fact, several high-profile advocates of conventional agricultural production have stated that the world would starve if we all converted to organic agriculture.

Is there enough food to feed the world?

The reality is that the world produces more than enough food to feed everyone and has more than enough suitable agricultural land to do it. Unfortunately, due to inefficient, unfair distribution systems and poor farming methods, millions of people do not receive adequate nutrition. Can Organic Agriculture Feed the World?

How will robots affect the future of Agriculture?

This compaction significantly affects the soil’s ability to hold onto water and so a crop’s ability to take that up, along with the nutrients. Using smaller, lighter robots to do the jobs currently performed by tractors could hugely help reduce these issues.

What is follow the food by BBC Future?

This article is part of a new multimedia series, Follow the Food by BBC Future in collaboration with BBC World News. Follow the Food investigates how agriculture is responding to the profound challenges of climate change, environmental degradation and a growing global population.


Can agriculture feed the world?

According to estimates compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), by 2050 we will need to produce 60 per cent more food to feed a world population of 9.3 billion. Doing that with a farming-as-usual approach would take too heavy a toll on our natural resources.

How does agriculture benefit the world?

Pasture and cropland occupy around 50 percent of the Earth’s habitable land and provide habitat and food for a multitude of species. When agricultural operations are sustainably managed, they can preserve and restore critical habitats, help protect watersheds, and improve soil health and water quality.

How Can sustainable agriculture feed the world?

Feeding the World with Organic By abstaining from most toxic synthetic inputs, organic farmers protect the environment and prioritize soil health, wildlife habitat, clean and air water, and nutrient-dense foods.

How any country can benefit from agriculture?

Agriculture can help reduce poverty, raise incomes and improve food security for 80% of the world’s poor, who live in rural areas and work mainly in farming. The World Bank Group is a leading financier of agriculture.

How can agriculture help the economy?

Agriculture plays a major role in economic growth and development. As the provider of food it is a cornerstone of human existence. As a furnisher of industrial raw materials it is an important contributor to economic activity in other sectors of the economy.

What are 5 benefits of agriculture?

10 Reasons Why Agriculture Is Important#1. It’s the main source of raw materials. … #2. It’s important to international trade. … #3. It plays a big role in a nation’s revenue. … #4. It provides employment. … #5. It’s crucial to a country’s development. … #6. It can help heal the environment. … #7. It goes hand-in-hand with war. … #8.More items…

How do we feed the world?

How to feed the world without destroying the planetDramatically reduce the estimated one-third of food that is lost or wasted. … Shift the diets of high-meat consumers toward plant-based foods. … Boost crop yields and dramatically increase the output of milk and meat. … Improve wild fisheries management and aquaculture.

How can agriculture meet the world’s growing need for food while doing less environmental harm?

Developing pest- and disease-resistant seeds through traditional breeding or genetic engineering can increase yields and reduce pesticide use. Cultivars suited to local conditions and weather extremes, such as drought and heat, can also help farmers produce more food without degrading ecosystems.

How can we feed a growing global population?

Here are five of the most universal of the proposals:Reduce Food Waste. An estimated one-third of all food produced is wasted from farm to home. … Shift Diets to More Plant-Based Foods. … Super Boost Crop Yields. … Look to the Seas for More Food. … Use an Agroecological Approach to Food Production.

Why agriculture is Important to international relation?

Agriculture is often the economic driving force in developing countries. WTO statistics show that agriculture accounts for over one-third of export earnings for almost 50 developing countries, and for about 40 of them this sector accounts for over half of export earnings.

Why did organic farming produce the green revolution?

Since 1946, the advent of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, improved crop varieties and industrial paradigms are credited with producing the high yields of the “green revolution.”. Because organic agriculture avoids many of these new inputs, it is assumed that it always results in lower yields.

What is the study of apple production?

A study of apple production conducted by Washington State University compared the economic and environmental sustainability of conventional, organic and integrated growing systems in apple production. The organic system had equivalent yields to the other systems.

What are the organic farmers doing?

Several of the organic farmers are training many other farmers in the district and helping them to apply organic farming techniques to their farms. The mood of the community has changed. They are now confident and empowered with the knowledge that they can overcome the problems in their community.

How does low tech agriculture help the world?

An editorial in New Scientist for February 3, 2001, stated that low-tech, sustainable agriculture is increasing crop yields on poor farms across the world, often by 70 percent or more. This has been achieved by replacing synthetic chemicals with natural pest control and natural fertilizers.

Why is organic agriculture important?

Organic agriculture is a viable solution to preventing global hunger because: It can achieve high yields.

How many people are farming sustainably?

Professor Jules Pretty, director of the Centre for Environment and Society at the University of Essex, wrote, “Recent evidence from 20 countries has found more than 2 million families farming sustainably on more than 4-5 million hectares. This is no longer marginal. It cannot be ignored. What is remarkable is not so much the numbers, but that most of this has happened in the past 5-10 years. Moreover, many of the improvements are occurring in remote and resource-poor areas that had been assumed to be incapable of producing food surpluses.”

What is the impact of clearing forests?

South American rainforests are cleared for pasture that is grazed with beef destined for the hamburger chains of North America. Once the soil is depleted, new areas are cleared for pasture and old, degraded areas are abandoned to weeds. In Asia, most of the forests are cleared for timber that is exported to the developed industrial economies. One of the saddest things about this massive, wasteful destruction of biodiversity is that very little of the newly cleared land is used to feed the poor. Most of this production of timber and beef is exported to the world’s richest economies.

What happens if a banana ripens too early?

If a banana ripens too early in the process, it releases ethylene gas, which triggers ripening in other bananas. It only takes one rogue ripe banana to take down 15% of a shipment. That’s a huge pile of wasted bananas.

Why are robots good for farming?

One reason small, mobile robots could be good news for farming is that they can replace a lot of the work done by large conventional tractors. Ordinary tractors are heavy. When they roll across the field they compact the soil. That crushes the gaps inside, reducing the size of the pores that hold air and water. This compaction significantly affects the soil’s ability to hold onto water and so a crop’s ability to take that up, along with the nutrients.

Why are bananas edited?

What some scientists in Norwich, UK, are doing is editing the genome of the bananas – modifying specific letters in their DNA – so that they produce far less ethylene. This could lead to less wastage en route and extend the banana’s shelf life in the supermarket. In some parts of the world, this could translate into real supply chains. But in other places, such as the EU, gene-edited crops are very tightly regulated with a lengthy approval process.

How many people will we feed by 2050?

The only way we can feed 10 billion people by 2050 is if the farming and food industries become much more sustainable. And that requires changes to the whole model of growing, processing, transporting, storing and selling. It means a lot of businesses and governments need to take action. But so too do we all.

Why do supermarkets change their labelling?

Whether that’s going to the market and choosing the most “ugly” veg for dinner, encouraging supermarkets to change their labelling to show us the carbon or water footprint of our food (so you can choose an avocado that’s used less of our rapidly depleting fresh water supply to grow), or using new tech to avoid waste, there’s so much we can be doing to value our food and value its producers.

How many people will be in agriculture by 2050?

A s our global population continues to rise, some estimates suggest it could reach a whopping 10 billion people by 2050. To feed that many people, we will need to produce record quantities of food.

How does compaction affect soil?

This compaction significantly affects the soil’s ability to hold onto water and so a crop’s ability to take that up, along with the nutrients.

How long does a cow’s pasture last after grazing?

The movement of cattle between pastures was also changed, so that each pasture is left empty after grazing to regenerate for at least 360 days.

What is regenerative farming?

Farmers who use regenerative farming methods cooperate with nature. They grow plants using methods that revive ecosystems. These methods are complex and various, because each is unique to the ecosystem, soil characteristics and climate of a farm. Some common regenerative agriculture principles, however, include:

Why is food production going down?

In Extinction: The Facts, Robert Watson (then the Chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) says, ‘food production in some parts of the world is going down, due to soil degradation and a changing climate’. The upper layer of soil in which plants grow is called topsoil.

How to create a permaculture?

A permaculture is an ecosystem that is self-sufficient and sustainable. Carefully manage animal grazing. Livestock should gradually move across the land to graze and fertilise the soil, rather than staying in one place to degrade soil and be fed from troughs. Go organic.

What is the purpose of animals in the soil?

One of the most important things that animals in the soil do is to break down organic matter , which is used for plant growth.’.

Why do we dig up and turn soil before sowing seeds?

We often engage with natural processes as problems to be fixed: we dig up and turn soil before sowing seeds, which degrades the soil and releases greenhouse gases that would naturally stay underground; we clear unwanted plants after harvesting, which exposes bare earth to harsh weather and erosion.

How long does it take for a plant to grow one inch of soil?

The speed at which topsoil builds in the natural world depends on numerous factors, such as topography and climate, but it appears to take approximately 500 years to grow one inch of topsoil. Remember this — I’ll come back to it later.

How much SNF is used for livestock?

Rough calculations for the UK suggest that we use about 30% of our SN on pastures. I suspect the figure is much lower in most other countries. I’ll arbitrarily assume that it amounts to 3% globally – further information welcome. This would take total SNF down to 73 Mt.

How much N is fixed annually by cover crop legumes?

Whatever the rights or wrongs of that point, I’m going to take a different tack and consider some figures that Connor presents 3. He says that 21 Mega tonnes (Mt) of N are fixed annually by cover crop legumes, with the total amount of BNF estimated between 33-46Mt. This contrasts with 113Mt of SNF, giving the measure of the challenge – apparently a major shortfall in the possibility of feeding the world organically.

How much of the world’s cropland is devoted to livestock?

Let’s now look at livestock. According to the FAO, 33% of global cropland is devoted to producing livestock fodder. This is a choice that humans make – in fact, that primarily rich humans make – and I’d suggest not a wise one in view of the energy and other squeezes we face.

How much N is in human urine?

The next thing to look at is human waste. Each of us excretes about 20g of N per day in urine and faeces – which amounts to a lot of N aggregated across the human population over a year. Here in the UK, we already do a pretty good job of getting this back to the fields, but at quite a high energetic cost in water treatment and transport. One of the arguments in favour of ruralization is that it’s much easier energetically to get human nutrients back into the fields when people are actually living on them (a graver threat to urbanism than many seem to appreciate, especially in relation to phosphate rather than N). Let’s assume we can get 75% of the N contained in global humanure into the fields (again, I’m open to a more refined analysis with this parameter). This shrinks annual global SN to 25 Mt.

What is the objection to organic farming based on BNF?

The main objection to the possibility of ‘feeding the world’ through organic agriculture based on BNF is that it’s typically lower yielding than SNF-based agriculture.

Is SNF an energy intensive business?

Still, SNF is an energy-intensive business requiring a complex industrial infrastructure. Given energy and other constraints in the future, if it turned out we needed SNF at similar levels to the present to feed the world this would be quite a stumbling block for arguments favouring low-energy agrarian localism.

When was Small Farm Future published?

By Chris Smaje, originally published by Small Farm Future. March 25, 2021. I discuss various aspects of so-called ‘alternative’ agriculture at some length in Chapter 6 of A Small Farm Future1, and I don’t intend to retrace many of those steps here. But there’s a couple of further things I do want to say in this blog cycle.


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