The world, of all the eras it has gone through, is now at loggerheads with the indomitable prospect of food crisis which cannot yield to the relentless human efforts. Being the basic need on which existence hangs, it cannot be overlooked at all. It is not a one-country problem for which others may not be much concerned, it is a global issue that calls into play a concerted struggle by all nations on the face of the earth. Countries, without any diplomatic pleading, should willingly and with a mutual interest be seriously concerned to come up with a lasting solution that the dreadful situation demands.
According to many researchers, factors affecting the demand for food are as follows:
To deal with food supply it is necessary to understand the trend of population size. Imprecision about the state of current population can bear big source of error as uncertainty about the future becomes inevitable. This issue is critical to estimate the future demand for food. Therefore a reliable population projection should be constructed for over estimation and under estimation are both can affect future food demand. at this point it should be noted that increasing demand for food is not caused only by the rise in population size but in per capita consumption.
Changes in consumption patterns
Global dietary patterns are being influenced by complex socio-economic trends. Two sides emerge: demand side and supply side. The demand side more and more live in cities with relatively sedentary occupations that enabling them get high disposable incomes. The supply side achieves economic growth, the encouragement of foreign direct investment ushering in fast-food and supermarket development and the like.
Effect of urbanization on the food system
The increasing urbanization and urban spread has a direct effect on the land available for agriculture. Urban population can access a greater diversity of foods. On the other hand, urbanization can have a positive effect on rural areas and food productivity by increasing national wealth and specifically by creating markets for food producers. Thus, there will be strong financial links between people living in cities and the countryside with remittance from urban household financing innovation and yield growth in farming. The migration of people from rural areas to the city, (of which the great majority is young people), is lately showing the decrease in productive force in the agricultural sector. If this situation continues, the production of food will definitely get less and as aresult there will not be sufficient supply of food. There is a tendency that the primary sector (food production, forestry and mining) is exceeded by economic value of industry and services). More and more people are employed in the industries and services than in agriculture in many countries.
Understanding income distribution Income for an individual is of paramount importance. Without income purchasing food is impossible. To accurately predict nation’s food demand, it is important to know full distribution of food per capita income and how this is reflected in food purchase. There is a lower limit to the amount of food an individual can eat without starving to death and upper limit determined by our physiology. The biological facts underlie Engel’s law that states as income increases, the proportion spent on food declines. Bennett states that there is a shift from starchy staples to more fatty as people get richer.
Cicero & Massel (2919) in their study show how income disparity can affect estimates of future food demand. They also explore how changes in income distribution can affect food demand. The many poor, as their income is so low, even though they have no
less demand than the rich, their low income limits their purchasing power. Here, demand and the purchase power remains disproportional. .
In view of this threatening situation, to alleviate the problem, there should be some kind of strategic planning which all should agree upon. Even in that case, the world is entering a new era, one in which it is far more difficult to expand food output. Many knew that this time would eventually come, that at some point, the limits of the Earth’s natural system, the cumulative effects of environmental degradation on cropland productivity and shrinking backlog of yield-raising technologies would slow the record growth of food production. But because no one knew exactly when or how this would happen, the food prospect was widely debated. Now we see several constraints emerging simultaneously to slow the food production.
The constraints are many and different. The past was a reliable guide for the future. But in a world of limits, this reliability is changing. According to Lester R. Brown 1995, in projecting food supply trend now, at least six new constraints need to be taken into account:
The backlog of unused agricultural technology is shrinking leaving farmers with fewer agronomic options for expanding food outputs. The technology rather focuses more on other spheres of production than agriculture that sustains human existence Attempts to embark on other production, becomes futile compared to food production without which man cannot survive exist.
Growing human demands are pushing the limits of fisheries to supply seafood and rangelands to supply beef and mutton. The production of oceanic fisheries and rangelands is determined by natural limits. The world fish catch increases doubling sea food consumption per person; it appears to have reached a natural limit. Marine biologist at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that all the seventeen major oceanic fisheries now are being fished at or beyond capacity. Yields in nine actually are declining. Abreast of this, The World’s Resort Institute reports that the world’s rangelands, a major source of animal protein, also are under excessive pressure. Because rangeland production of beef and muttons mat not increase much in the future, if at all, availability per person will decline as population grows.
Demands for water are pushing the limits of hydrological cycle to supply irrigation water in key food growing regions. Many of the irrigation systems that rely on over pumping eventually will have to be curbed to bring pumping into balance with aquifer recharge. This reduction, combined with the growing diversion of irrigation water to residential and industrial uses, limits the amount of water available to produce food. Too much dependence on fossil aquifers causes its depletion which means an end to irrigated agriculture.
In many countries, using additional fertilizer on currently available crop varieties has little or no effect on yields. Perhaps the most worrisome emerging constraint of food production is the limited capacity of existing grain varieties to respond to the use of additional fertilizer. Fertilizer use data from the International fertilizer Industry Association suggests that in the United States, Western Europe, and Japan, Fertilizers use has increased little if at all during the last couple decades. Using additional amount on existing crop varieties has little or no effect on yield in these countries.
Further complicating efforts to achieve an acceptable balance between food and people is the social disintegration occurring in many parts of the world. In a landmark article in the February 1994 Atlantic Monthly entitled “The Coming Anarchy “writer and political analyst Robert Kaplan observed that unprecedented population growth and environmental degradation were driving people from the countryside into cities and across national borders at a record rate. At this intensive moment many people take dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea of which many cannot make it to their destination.
Countries that already are densely populated when they begin to industrialize risk losing cropland at a rate that exceeds the rise in land productivity, beginning a long term decline in food production. Social disintegration driven by rapid population growth and environmental degradation is undermining many national governments and their efforts to expand food production.
In previous years, a great deal of technology was waiting to be developed and used as the trend of food production was rather declining. The irrigation-based for thousands of years when the all the basic nutrients in agriculture taken from the soil. Therefore we can site the basic principles of heredity that Gregory Mendel established, laying the groundwork for future crop-breeding advances, in the 1860. Due to this hybrid varieties were commercialized yet boosting fertilizers responsiveness. The most worrisome emerging constraints on food production is the limited capacity of the existing grain varieties to respond to the use of additional fertilizer. Using additional amount on existing crop varieties has little or no effect on yield. Thus, the less the production, the higher the demand is, creating shortage in food supply. The situation has led to the high cost of living in all countries.
Along with this, the over use of irrigation system has negatively contributed to the increasing aquifer recharge. The reduction combined with the growing diversion of irrigation to residential and industrial uses, limits the amount of water available to produce food. For many of world’s farmers, the best hope is from gains in efficiency.
To satisfy the anxious minds, crop yields have improved dramatically 50 years until 2000, but there was evidence that rates of increase had declined in recent times. Jaggar et al (2010) ask if yields in unindustrialized countries have reached ceiling and conclude that is not the case; they consider how yields may increase both in short and long term. The authors select a series of crops in 17 different countries and ask whether the goal of producing substantially more food in 2050 is feasible. The conclusion, hedged or barred with important caveats about the challenges ahead, is cautiously positive. Thus, the situation does not unfold as such bright future. There will definitely be a down-word trend in food production unless miraculously a dramatic change that defies all the oddities that are currently prevailing.
All in all, the total situation does not unfold as such bright future. There will definitely be a down-word trend in food production unless miraculously dramatic change that defies all the oddities currently prevailing.
All evidence confirms that the world is on the brink of catastrophe that ushers in a social instability as there will not be enough food available for all. It should be noted that man primarily labors for the daily bread and butter. As long as food is available, one can eat it anywhere, be it in the open air or in a cave. Shelter and clothing, at this point, become secondary issues. If man is denied the opportunity to eat at all, as history tells us, turning on his brother for food is inevitable. Literally speaking, the severity of the hunger triggers unstoppable wars between nations in the effort to loot, most of all, the food the opposing country has in its store. Decency and civility are unthinkable while struggling to access the food. Instead, selfishness and greed supplant the so called civility, the polished human behavior. Strong dislike, active enmity, ravages the world to the extent of even affecting the relationship between members of the same family; after all, at this point, reign of famine dictates the situation. Under normal circumstance, everyone looks for someone who would reach out to him with a loaf of bread. But now that is not expected of any person, rather the hungry man snatches away the food without restraints. What is shown thus far is just a tip of iceberg. The whole issue is rather shocking.
The Ethiopian Herald Sunday edition October 20/2019
BY JOSEPH SOBOKA