Radical changes in farming can avert global food shortage

April 19th, 2008 - 2:18 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, April 19 (ANI): A report issued by the United Nations (UN) has said that radical changes in world farming are needed to avert increasing regional food shortages, escalating prices and growing environmental problems.

The report is known as the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD).

Issued as the UNs World Food Programme, the report had the nod of sixty countries, backed by the World Bank, according to ENN (Environmental News Network).

It called for rich countries to contribute 500 million dollars to immediately address a growing global food crisis which has seen staple food price rises of up to 80% in some countries, and food riots in many cities.

According to the report, rising populations and incomes will intensify food demand, especially for meat and milk, which will compete for land with crops, as will biofuels.

The unequal distribution of food and conflict over control of the worlds dwindling natural resources presents a major political and social challenge to governments, likely to reach crisis status as climate change advances and world population expands from 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion by 2050.

Robert Watson, director of IAASTD and chief scientist at the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has determined that governments and industries have focused too narrowly on increasing food production, with little regard for natural resources or food security.

Continuing with current trends would mean the earths haves and have-nots splitting further apart. It would leave us facing a world nobody would want to inhabit, he said. We have to make food more affordable and nutritious without degrading the land, Watson added.

According to the authors, the present system of food production and the way food is traded around the world, has led to a highly unequal distribution of benefits and serious adverse ecological effects and was now contributing to climate change.

Science and technology should be targeted towards raising yields but also protecting soils, water and forests, they added.

Investment in agricultural science has decreased, yet we urgently need sustainable ways to produce food. Incentives for science to address the issues that matter to the poor are weak, said Watson.

Small-scale farmers and ecological methods provide the way forward to avert the current food crisis and meet the needs of communities, according to a group of eight international environment and consumer groups.

According to Guilhem Calvo, an adviser with the ecological and earth sciences division of UNESCO, We must develop agriculture that is less dependent on fossil fuels, favours the use of locally available resources and explores the use of natural processes such as crop rotation and use of organic fertilizers. (ANI)

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