Guide World Food - Production and Use

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As Kearney describes, in the 10 years between and , the service and retail sectors in Latin America made changes that had previously taken 50 years in North America, and much of Asia and Eastern Europe are only a few years behind. This increased economic activity in the food sector brings advantages such as employment and investment opportunities, and often increases the availability and safety of the food on offer to its consumers.

Significantly, South Korea, which has vigorously promoted local foods rather than a western diet, has lower rates of obesity than similar countries Kennedy et al. The implications of urbanization are explored in more detail by Satterthwaite et al. They point out that around , the global economic value of industry and services for the first time exceeded that of the primary sector food production, forestry and mining , and that by about more people were employed in the former than the latter.

Industry and services are concentrated in cities and by about more people on the Earth lived in cities than in rural areas. This trend towards urbanization is certain to continue and the last few decades have seen the rise of megacities in developing countries, with Mumbai, Sao Paulo and Mexico City all having more than 16 million inhabitants. Urbanization is strongly associated with increasing wealth, and sufficiently advanced logistics and infrastructure are essential to feed the inhabitants in very large conurbations.

Increasing urbanization and urban spread has a direct, though sometimes, exaggerated effect on the land available for agriculture but many more indirect effects.

Urban populations can access a greater diversity of foods, though this may include meat, dairy and convenience foods—types of food that may have required more resources for their production or be less healthy. However, some studies suggest that income rather than urban or rural location is normally the primary determinant of diet. Urbanization can also have very positive effects on rural areas and food production, in general by increasing national wealth and more specifically by creating markets for food producers. In developing countries in particular there are often strong financial links between people living in cities and the countryside, with remittances from urban households financing innovation and yield growth in farming.

To accurately predict a nation's food demand, it is important to know the full distribution of per capita income and how this is reflected in food purchases, an area of active research in behavioural economics. There is a lower limit to the amount of food an individual can eat without starving to death and an upper limit determined by our physiology. These biological facts underlie Engel's law, which states that as income increases the proportion spent on food declines. There are numerous challenges to estimating this relationship: moving from micro- to macro-economic description—from the behaviour of individuals to the aggregate properties of a population—is complicated by the nonlinearity of the Engel curve, what economists call the aggregation problem.

One also cannot simply work with per capita behaviours, as household size and in particular the number of children affects the income—food demand relationship. Not all food requires the same resources for its production and to understand the full consequence of increased wealth, there is a need to couple Engel's Law with Bennett's Law, the latter describing the shift from starchy staples to more fatty foods as people get richer. They show how income disparity can affect estimates of future food demand, the nub of the aggregation problem.

Most major models do not explicitly allow for this variation. To illustrate their arguments, the authors explore how changes in income distribution affect food demand in an Indian state, and then cautiously extrapolate their results to global food supply. Crop yields have improved dramatically over the last 50 years, but there is evidence that rates of increase have declined in recent times. Jaggard et al. They also explore the yield gap; what is actually achieved against the best benchmark for a particular crop in a particular region.

In efficiently run operations in industrialized countries, the gap may only be 20 per cent, and there may only be weak economic incentives to improve yields. However, there is considerable variation among different farming operations, with some—for complicated social and economic reasons—being very inefficient, and of course great scope for yield increases in many developing countries, especially through increased crop fertilization.

Jaggard and co-workers also review attempts to predict crop yields in the future by combining different types of global climate models GCMs with crop growth models. Results to date are informative but not consistent. The nature and extent of CO 2 fertilization see also Gornall et al. The authors select a series of crops in 17 different countries and ask whether the goal of producing substantially more food in is feasible, given reasonable assumptions about rates of technological advance, efforts to close the yield gap, climate, CO 2 fertilization and often ignored ozone pollution.

Their conclusion, hedged with important caveats about the challenges ahead, is cautiously positive. How might we increase the supply of meat and milk to match burgeoning demand? A variety of strategies are explored in the review by Thornton Conventional animal breeding is still capable of increasing yields, and will be important in addressing other goals such as sustainability and better welfare.

Modern genomic approaches to breeding will undoubtedly produce further gains, perhaps supplemented by the prospect of genetic modification. Many advances have involved novel crosses, and preserving rare breeds may be a valuable investment for the future. We have a much better understanding of animal nutrition than in the past, but further research is required to develop robust animal growth models to help optimize livestock production. Poor nutrition is a particular problem in developing countries, where livestock often represent a critical component of household and community capital.

Thornton describes a series of important new ideas that are specifically designed to benefit the nutritional status of livestock kept by very poor communities. In developed countries there has been a general decline in endemic diseases, although major epidemics, including new emergent diseases, continue to be a major threat.

Less progress has been made in the tropics, although with some success such as the probable eradication of rinderpest. Animal breeding and veterinary advances, as well as better diagnosis and surveillance, will all help farmers keep pace with evolving pathogens and hopefully reduce the burden of disease. Livestock production is responsible for a significant but contested fraction of anthropogenic greenhouse emissions e. FAO and will be required to contribute towards mitigation efforts.

Crop Allocation

Switching from ruminants to monogastric livestock may help, as will technological advances in how intensively maintained animals are reared. In more extensive systems it may be possible to develop systems that both capture more carbon and provide more feedstock.

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Maintaining viable livestock production will be critical in climate-change adaptation, especially for very many poor smallholders whose animals are central to their livelihoods. In some of the most marginal agricultural areas we may even see an increase in pastoralism and nomadism if crop production becomes unviable. The supply of fishery products caught from the world's coasts and oceans has historically been a key source of high-quality food, and including the fish used for animal and fish feed, plus seaweeds; it is still the most significant component of the global aquatic food industry.

It is also a highly complex and potentially vulnerable food system, consisting of a mix of industrial operations with significant political influence and small-scale or artisanal fishing, which provides an important source of direct food security and an income safety net for poor people. The major growth in marine fishery capacity over the last 50 years has resulted in almost all of the world's stocks being harvested to full capacity or over-exploited, with troubling implications for ecosystem health, stock resilience and long-term output and value.

Over the last 40 years, the capacity of the global fleet to catch fish has increased sixfold and as actual harvests have remained nearly static, harvest productivity has thus declined by six.

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Critical for the future health of the sector is better governance, both for high-seas fisheries and those in Exclusive Economic Zones. There are particularly complex governance issues for fisheries exploited largely by poor people working in small groups. A better harmonization of fisheries and ecosystem management will help protect stocks and there is an important role for non-governmental agencies and civil society to champion sustainability in marine fisheries in order to help governments make difficult decisions, which may have unpopular political and socio-economic ramifications.

Inland capture fisheries—the fish and crustaceans harvested from rivers, lakes, floodplains and lagoons—are of major importance to many communities, especially those in low-income nations. In low-income countries the food obtained from inland waters tends to be of direct importance as food, while in more wealthy counties recreational fishing has come to dominate.

Welcomme et al. The most important challenges involve changes to water systems with increasing demands for water from the agricultural, domestic, industrial and energy production sectors. Climate change is likely to exacerbate the problems. Integrated water management policies are essential to try to balance these competing interests. A range of management, mitigation and enhancement strategies are available, for example, enhancement of wild stocks by reared fish, but their success depends critically on the political and institutional context of the particular fishery.

There is a continuum between unmanaged capture fisheries through increasing interventions to full aquaculture, and while aquaculture is often seen as an important development option, the transition from being a fisherman to working in more farming-like aquaculture can be a major barrier. The development and growth of aquaculture has been one of the most remarkable features of the modern food sector, with production rising steadily in most parts of the world, increasingly supplanting capture fisheries as the most important source of fish and other aquatic food.

The planet produces more than enough food, just not the kind people need

As Bostock et al. Fish-based meals and oils from industrial fisheries have been used extensively as feed in aquaculture which raises issues of security of supply and environmental impact.

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  • However, dependence on this type of feed is likely to decrease with a wider range of species being cultivated, especially those from lower trophic levels non-carnivores. Not unexpectedly, a large part of recent investment and technical development has focused on higher value species, though the real costs of former luxury species such as salmon has declined considerably.

    Looking ahead, we can expect to see a marked increase in aquaculture and product development involving lower-cost species, especially in low- and mid-income countries. Research challenges include increasing resource-use efficiency requiring both biological and engineering innovation , reducing the risk of disease, improving environmental performance and maintaining the nutritional quality of farmed fish. Wild food is collected in developed countries but it is chiefly in low- and middle-income countries that it can be critical for a healthy diet.

    For example, a meta-analysis of over 20 African studies finds that a typical rural community uses approximately wild species of plant. In addition, most rural communities intervene to manage populations of wild species, suggesting that there is not such a sharp dichotomy between agricultural and non-agricultural systems. Wild food is an ecosystem service provided by non-agricultural environments. As is discussed further in the review by Power see below , it is important that these non-monetarized benefits of natural and semi-natural environments are understood in order to make rational decisions about land use at a time of increasing pressures on biodiversity.

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    Agriculture competes with domestic and commercial municipal consumers, and also with large-scale industrial users. The demand from both these sectors is currently increasing, roughly in line with growing global levels of prosperity though water demand eventually plateaus in high-income countries. Water is also required to maintain functioning ecosystems and environmental flow requirements ERFs are not traditionally included in water calculations.

    Future water supply will be strongly influenced by climate change, not least because evapotranspiration occurs at a faster rate in a warmer climate. Though climate change in some areas will be associated with higher precipitation, if this occurs as extreme events storms and blizzards it is of less use because of flooding and run-off.

    Content : Feeding a world of 9 billion

    The world has also been using up groundwater reserves at a rate far above replenishment, a particular concern in shallow aquifers connected to surface hydrology. The large-scale machine-based agriculture is harmful to both our nature and humanity. It is simply not sustainable. It can be simply expressed in the following five points:.