“We are entering a new era of rising food prices and spreading hunger. Food supplies are tightening everywhere and land is becoming the most sought-after commodity as the world shifts from an age of food abundance to one of scarcity,” says Lester Brown, president of the Earth policy research centre in Washington. “The geopolitics of food is fast overshadowing the geopolitics of oil.” Read more…
Much of the available arable land is worked out due to years of artificial fertiliser usage and the overuse of pesticides and herbicides.
Wastage & Environmental Issues
It is disgraceful to learn from some sources that there is enough food produced globally to feed the world’s population about 2-3 times over, but that about half of it is wasted. This is due to wastage in distribution, geopolitical problems and over-buying and lack of concern on the part the more affluent in developed countries.
There should be a push towards locally produced and distributed food. There should be a move away from large corporate supermarket groups with their absurd rules on the shape, size or visual appearance of food which causes enormous food wastage prior to its entry into the food distribution chain. There should be penalties for supermarket chains who source locally producible product from greater distances than are necessary thereby adding additional carbon emissions into the equation.
“As we mark World Food Day this week, we are greeted by the news that 842 million people – about one in eight – are still chronically hungry. Although this represents an improvement on the figures from previous years, it is not enough, and it looks like we are at risk of missing the Millennium Development Goal of halving global hunger from 1990 to 2015…” Read more at the World Economic Forum
Possible Solutions for Greater Food Production
One possible solution to revitalise worked out land is to employ ‘inter-cropping’ techniques where fast growing trees are grown and arable crops are grown between them. The trees create a micro-climate resulting in increased crop yields. As much as 40% increases have been witnessed. Paulownia trees are ideal for this form of farming. The trees are deep rooting and so are able to draw on nutrients, previously washed away from topsoil. The species are deciduous and their large nutrient rich leaves can be used to enrich the soil.
In China 1.5 million hectares are inter-cropped.
Hydroponics allows food to be grown with far more efficient use of the available land.
Aquaponics improves on hydroponics by harnessing the symbiotic relationship between plants and fish. Fish waste is used as nutrient for growing the vegetables and fruit and in turn the vegetables and fruit clean the water for the fish. The fish grow from fingerlings to edible sizes and are harvested for food. Water usage is also more efficient as the water is contained in ‘grow beds’ and fish tanks. The only usage is from evaporation and uptake by the plants unlike conventional soil grown plants where much of the water is lost in the subsoil.