28 July 2011 | EN | 中文
Cassava is one of the crops whose production will need to increase significantly
By 2050, there will be another two to three billion people on Earth, and the planet's population will consume twice as much food as now. For 50 years farmland has grown at the cost of natural habitat and biodiversity, and already more than two-thirds of agricultural land is either in use or protected.
As a result, we need to develop the technology to double the output of the 10–15 main calorie crops, particularly if we are alleviate the burden on developing countries of feeding a rapidly growing population, argues Jason Clay of the WWF in the journal Nature.
He makes eight strategic suggestions — described as "food wedges" — for Africa, the continent that faces the greatest challenge of increasing food production.
Clay believes the responsible use of genetics is one of the keys. He suggests that mapping the genomes of staple food cropssuch as yams, plantains and cassava, andselecting useful genetic traits, can both increase production and improve drought tolerance, disease resistance and nutrient content.
Improving agricultural inputs and practices is also essential, he argues. It currently takes one litre of water to produce one calorie of food. Even if we halved water use and doubled production, food deficiency would still increase fourfold. Technologies already exist to achieve this, but in Africa they haveoften not been taken up. Mulching, for example, can help rebuild soil fertility and reduce water usage, and is suitable for use even in household gardens, without need for high-tech tools.
Even within nations some producers are ten times more efficient than their producers. We gain the most by improving the poorest performing producers.
Other strategic goals and research gaps include rehabilitating degraded land; reducing food waste — currently one out of every three calories is wasted — and improving property rights so that by 2020, half of African households can own the land they cultivate.
Clay notes that work to reform global food production is underway. For example NEPAD (African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development), the food company Mars, and WWF are working with experts to sequence the genomes of staple crops. These will be made public within three to five years.
There is no silver bullet for increasing food production. However Clay concludes that, with the correct reforms and the right partnerships, feeding the world without destroying the environment may be achievable.
Link to full article in Nature
Landesa ( United States of America )
28 July 2011
Wedge about Property Rights:
Understanding that having legal rights to your land gives assurance and incentive to make investments in your land, Landesa is an NGO that partners with governments and local organizations to ensure that the world's poorest families have secure rights over the land they till.
Landesa's recent projects in Africa partnering with governments and local NGOs include Burkina Faso, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda and Uganda. We also have program offices in China and India where the majority of the world's rural poor live who are either completely landless or whose land is not sufficiently secure.
Founded as the Rural Development Institute in 1967, Landesa has helped governments of developing countries provide more than 100 million poor families with legal control over their land.
--For more information, visit www.landesa.org
ironjustice ( Canada )
31 July 2011
One method seems to be very productive. This video show how to do it.
"1 MILLION pounds of Food on 3 acres. 10,000 fish 500 yards compost "
JTOliver ( Nigeria )
2 August 2011
In many countries, history has shown that merely giving ownership to land that tenants cultivate does not solve productivity problems. In numerous cases, farmers who have been given land through agrarian reform resort to selling the land when they do not have access to affordable inputs, credit, and markets - basically the whole shebang! Additionally, many - if not all - that Jason Clay mentioned as solutions have been done or are being done. Sadly, it is true that funding for these efforts are dwindling every year. Also, it is sad to note that the role of communications is relegated to the sidelines. What people do not realize is that when breakthrough technologies in agriculture are made and not communicated to the target beneficiaries, they remain "on the shelves" gathering dust. So yes, there is no single silver bullet for the problem of food security and sustainability, but maybe a multi-point, shotgun approach will make more of a difference.
Bakary J ( Gambia )
15 August 2011
Indeed there are multiple factors to be considered. Every situation must be assessed by all stakeholders having access to relevant communication. Then following trials and/or demonstrations united action may affect the required change. A small united group may be the catalyst for the larger society to change. Many competing interests may cause even more confusion, waste of time and resources. A multitude of small trials may show several alternative solutions to suit diverse conditions. Attitudinal change is likely the most difficult one to accomplish.
mundializacion ( Peru )
7 September 2011
May be it is the time to stop killing animals for feeding us, every moment we kill to feed turns into too over expensive to sustain.
Anura Widana ( New Zealand )
17 September 2011
I wish to add yet another dimension to the challenge of feeding the world population! The focus in all past years has been on the increase of production of one or a few crops, obviously the ones that are important in terms of calorie output. In our approach to increasing food production what is more important is to think output per unit area and a unit of resource invested in food production!
In this connection, it is evident that we need to focus on the output of all plants and animals from a unit land area and not necessarily any single or a few crops. Investment on water utilization is also more meaningful when we change our focus of attention from one crop to the entire plant and animal output that can be achieved from a unit are of the entire farming system (FS). What does it mean by output of FS? A unit area of any FS accommodates a large number of plant and animal species, majority of which is consumable. Very few of us only recognise that there are numerous relationships and linkages of different crops and animals that thrive on a unit area. When we try to increase output per single crop as against all creatures, some of our actions are harmful to numerous linkages and relationships that co-exist within FS. The result is increased output per the single crop of our attention while reducing or even destroying all other relationships and linkages that characterize the entire FS. Research on various aspects including out put of the entire FS is totally inadequate.
For instance, although the past (and present) research has quantified the increased output of wet paddy using various technoilogical packages, they have failed to identify, quantify and document the lost out put from other types of plants and animals present. One living example comes from the Laotian wet paddy system that produces not just paddy but a series of other plants and animals (fish, crustacians, arthropods, worms, etc.) from which provide a large variety of nutrition and supplements.
Roy H W Johnston ( Techne Associates | Ireland )
26 September 2011
Is anyone looking into the problem of how best to recycle urban biomass waste into fertilising the land on which the food consumed in the cities is produced? Energy and resource constraints will increasingly limit the availability of artificial fertilisers.
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