World Food Crisis

By Sasha Blay

There is an increasing demand with an ever-growing population. Will we be able to sustain ourselves?

There are too many people either overfed or underfed. “1 out of 7 people are hungry.” (World Food Program) There is currently enough food in the world to support everyone, however realistically not everyone has access to it, and with an ever-growing population we need to ensure we have enough food, and the ability to allow everyone access to it. This is important because of how many we have hungry currently, and how many more there will be by 2050.

“20 percent more people (200 million) will be at risk of hunger by 2050 due to the changing climate” (BIS)

What is the predicted situation?

The population will increase to 8-10 billion (depending on how many apocalypses happen by then). To feed everyone, food production must increase by 50-80% to deal with the 40% increase in global population.

Annual production of _____ must increase to ______:

· Cereal: increase from 2.1 billion tonnes to 3 billion tonnes

· Meat: increase by 200 million tonnes to 470 million tonnes

· Soybean (for livestock): increase 140% to 515 million tonnes

· Cattle population: increase from 1.5 billion to 2.6 billion

· Goat/sheep population: increase from 1.7 billion to 2.7 billion

What factors are contributing to the World Food Crisis?

Agricultural practices and methods

Methods are inefficient, less environmental/unsustainable, or both

Climate change

Droughts & other natural disasters, changes in weather, precipitation & temperature


As much as half of food produced is lost/wasted!

“The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service found that annual US supermarket losses for 2005 and 2006 averaged 11.4% for fresh fruit, 9.7% for fresh vegetables, and 4.5% for fresh meat, poultry and seafood”

Demand & Accessibility

“Total meat production in the developing world tripled between 1980 and 2002, from 45 to 134 million tons" (World Bank 2009)

Other uses for food (biomass/fuel, livestock feed)

This has an impact on how much food is available, meaning increased prices.

Cereal prices increase 10-27% and the production area increases up to 59 million ha.

Changing patterns of international trade


Increases distance of people from their food sources, which promotes unhealthy/processed diets

Competition for land & land degradation

Livestock systems use 30% of the planet's land surface area, and 3 billion ha are used for crop production, half of which is cultivated.

35% of the world’s mangroves have been lost to agricultural use.

Moral/ethical decisions

Fair-trade has seen a 47% increase from 2007-8, which totals to 1.6 billion pounds spent

Competition for water

Is there ANYTHING we can do about this?

GlobalFoodCrisisVidCombo - Wi-Fi

Solutions to a future food shortage:

There are many difference factors (as discussed above) that are contributing to the world food situation, and we need to tackle each one of them to make a complete change.

Specific examples:

  • Using available land - 2.4 billion ha of land is suitable for wheat/rice/grain maize cultivation & 1,600 million ha for agricultural expansion

Issues: this is not environmental and would destroy ecosystems and homes. Many people would oppose this.

  • Government aid, getting countries to work together

Issues: if countries are at war or do not agree, they will not want to work together.

  • Subsidies, and giving farmers improved access to improved seeds, water, gasoline, and fertilizer

Issues: there is only so much the government can do or give.

  • Integrated farming systems (where livestock and crop production are combined)
  • Better control and prediction of biotic stressors (diseases, pests, etc.)

Issues: this takes research and research money... as well as a lot of trial & error

  • Improved breeding and genetic improvements

Issues: this borders on morals and requires experimenting

  • Decreasing waste by maximizing efficiency (ex: better storage and transport)

(Many of these initiatives will have to be thought out & enacted by the government, although we can encourage them by signing petitions and writing letters to support the causes we believe in.)

There’s a balance between the environment, the economy, and the people. There are going to have to be sacrifices on all sides, and luckily many possible solutions are available, meaning more room for errors, dead-ends, and changes in direction.

All of these differences will mean that enough food will be produced to support all.

Small changes can be made by anybody by supporting groups that are researching into a sustainable future, and by providing support for food-aid organizations.

What about giving people access to food?

What can be done to provide access? Who is already taking the initiative?

Many organisations such as:

World Food Program

Food Aid Convention

  • The Food Aid Convention is dedicated to providing “food aid to developing countries with the greatest needs, irrespective of fluctuations in world food prices and supplies”.
  • As of 2009 they had delivered 7.9 million tonnes of food, increasing their amount from the previous year.
  • The US started this, which chooses countries and then develops strategies to accomplish things like invest in female empowerment, diet quality, agricultural infrastructure, etc.

Anyone can fundraise & bring awareness to support these organizations.