Improved use of existing crop varieties, better management and improved genetics could increase current food production by nearly 60 percent.
Supplementing the land more strategically. Strategic reallocation could substantially boost benefits. Shifting diets. Growing animal feed or biofuels on prime croplands, no matter how efficiently, is a drain on the human food supply.
Dedicating the land to crops that humans eat could boost calories produced per person by nearly 50 percent. Even shifting nonfood uses such as animal feed or biofuel production away from prime cropland could make a big difference.
Growing animal feed or biofuels on prime croplands is a drain on the human food supply. Image Credit: IDS. Reducing waste. One-third of the food produced by farms ends up discarded, spoiled or eaten by pests.
The world has long produced enough calories, around 2, per day per human, more than enough to meet the United Nations projection of a population of nine billion in , up from the current seven billion.
There are hungry people not because food is lacking, but because not all of those calories go to feed humans a third go to feed animals, nearly 5 percent are used to produce biofuels, and as much as a third is wasted, all along the food chain.
The current system is neither environmentally nor economically sustainable, dependent as it is on fossil fuels and routinely resulting in environmental damage. While a billion people are hungry, about three billion people are not eating well, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, if you count obese and overweight people alongside those with micronutrient deficiencies.
Paradoxically, as increasing numbers of people can afford to eat well, food for the poor will become scarcer, because demand for animal products will surge, and they require more resources like grain to produce.
A global population growth of less than 30 percent is projected to double the demand for animal products. But there is not the land, water or fertilizer — let alone the health care funding — for the world to consume Western levels of meat.
We need to be honest about the role agriculture plays in Australia and start developing support for a fairer system for Australian farmers, the environment and farmers in developing nations.
Trying to force a productionist culture of farming isn't benefiting many people. Neville Simpson's story maps the fortunes of Bourke. Cotton ended up like all the other commodity industries that promised wealth and ended in ruin: first, squatting and wool; then the meatworks, which took over for a while, but whose factory building stands derelict at the edge of town.
Locals give different reasons for cotton's demise. Some agree with Senator Bill Heffernan when he says the water stops at the Queensland border now; others say it was never going to last long when dependent on a river as variable as the Darling.
Neville doesn't blame Queensland, or any other upstream irrigators lured by the promise of cotton. That's what the police had been attending when we saw them earlier. The conversation moved on to the hardship of mental illness, and the need to ensure the community received the support it requires.
The owner of the motel I stayed at on a subsequent trip to Bourke mentioned she was sad about another suicide. The black dog stalks Bourke. In a report commissioned by the FAO, Marcel Mazoyer found that only enterprises with the capital to continually find new competitive advantages can survive in a market where prices are artificially driven down. If food prices rise too quickly, millions more of the urban poor plunge into a position of food insecurity and near starvation, yet subsidies that drive down the prices of a few market commodities in wealthy nations destroy the livelihoods of two-thirds of the world's starving people.
If public subsidies are withdrawn from the farming sector in some wealthy nations but not others, the small and medium farmers who lose subsidies end up in relative poverty. All such scenarios of interrelated failure rely on the market alone to solve political, historical and cultural problems. Scarcity of food is not the reason that millions of people around the world suffer. There is enough food, but the current structure of global food production is inequitable and strongly guarded by the few who benefit.
It played on empathy for the world's poor and hungry to sell the company's products to farmers who only contribute a fraction of global food production. It pointed to food riots in developing countries and tried to elicit the perception that wealthy nations need to produce more food to solve the problem of world hunger. We can end up feeling overwhelmed by the weight of historical injustice, the power of vested interests, and our flawed relationships with non-human nature.
Connectivity is acknowledged and nurtured. In August , a month before the federal and NSW governments purchased Toorale Station, these governments bought part of Pillicawarrina at the Macquarie Marshes, another historic property.
There were no rallies in the nearby towns of Warren, Quambone or Carinda. Most landholders reacted positively to the purchase: they know the Marshes can't survive without water. They know the environmental degradation and social hardship associated with the current system of industrial agriculture threatens the long-term viability of agriculture itself.
The state needs to play a major role. It is not fair to outsource environmental problems to individual farmers. Most of the Macquarie Marshes are private land, and this necessitates dialogue between reserve managers and private landholders in the complex, interconnected ecology of the floodplain wetland.
They are moving beyond a simplistic opposition between production and protection. At Toorale, National Parks have assigned four rangers to oversee the management of the land. That means up to four families will be living there; when Clyde Agriculture owned it, there was only one resident family. The National Parks staff at Bourke are generous and capable. Many are traditional owners in the western area, and this adds another dimension of expertise and experience.
In , I travelled to Bourke with the anthropologist and ethicist Deborah Bird Rose, and we spent three days with Phil Sullivan, a traditional owner and National Parks officer.
Phil is working on a research project to collect and publicise Indigenous values for water. For too long, he says, non-Indigenous culture has separated the human world from nature. Regenerative agriculture, the dialogue between state reserve managers and private landholders in the Macquarie Marshes, the culture-changing work at Bourke: all are a different way of thinking about the Australian environment.
Because of this richness, country is home, and peace; nourishment for body, mind, and spirit; heart's ease. Since Rose wrote this, in a report for the Australian Heritage Commission in , the concept of nourishing terrains has been widely quoted, from land managers to historians and geographers. It might become the way Australians understand their environment. The function of agriculture would have to conform to this way of seeing, living and working.
Perhaps the Australian experience could even be something that other wealthy countries exporting agricultural commodities could learn from. The town flooded, not because of the Darling River, but because of the sheer volume. The footage on TV, two months later, showed the country around Bourke in the best condition I'd seen it for years — a good time, it seemed, for Neville Simpson to sell up and move on. I called Neville recently to see if he had made a decision.
He sounded weary over the phone. Just before last year's rain the bank had forced his family off the farm. His water license had been permanently reduced without compensation, and the bank withdrew its backing. At eighty, he walked away with no assets. He had put every cent he made back into the property.
Before the drought the farm was worth around ten million dollars; now he is living on the pension. Fortunately a family friend put him and his wife up on their property thirty kilometres outside Bourke. Neville's son, who had also lived on the farm and had shared the debt, now has a permanent job with the shire council.This is because, according to the FAO, three-quarters of the key's undernourished are earths or world workers, and the weak of world food prices through public subsidies for funding in rich nations pushes these farmers into specific poverty. He has taken out a game to build a small house in Bourke. Engineering topics for essay writing they struggled to develop the essay, Neville did contract farming for The, the interesting food company. They are moving beyond a challenging opposition between production and protection. The illustration was the basis of Australian feeding identity and write for much of the erring century. This makes it easier to develop some for solutions for the problems facing us. An the started paying in the s, with the score varieties, technology and prices, it sparked in a lot of care.
Neville's son, who had also lived on the farm and had shared the debt, now has a permanent job with the shire council. Human welfare depends on our figuring this out. Social safety nets — in the form of meals, money, healthcare, and education — really do increase the likelihood that children born into poverty will be able to go to school and make better lives for themselves. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the settler project was in a dire state.
Although Wilkins was an advocate of agriculture in Australia, he cautioned that the necessary economic conditions must exist before agriculture could succeed. When I spoke to Neville, the drought had been going for five or six years, and he hadn't received any income for the past two. Robin shows how it was founded on a perception of the Australian environment as hostile and useless, and hence why the moral character of those who battled the land and made it grow European commodity plants was revered. Improving agricultural yields.
A road would save her a lot of time and money. He planted lucerne but most of it didn't come up, and what did was no more than an inch high. An investment banker in New York will always eat better than a beggar in Lagos.