Dec 18, 2013

International agricultural policy changes needed but not happening

There are currently 7 billion people on this planet and it's estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050. This population growth is accompanied by a rising demand for food, water and land. Today, almost 1 billion people are undernourished, particularly in developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Even if the agricultural production in those countries doubles by 2050, it will not be enough to cope with the rising demand.

To cope with the rising demand for food in developing countries, the agricultural production would need to rise faster than the population growth. However, due to the rising scarcity of land and water, this would have to happen on the existing agricultural land. The production increase will thus have to come from modern and sustainable agricultural techniques, such as aquaponics.

Meanwhile, the current agricultural production appears to be slowing, and are showing only half of the 3% growth rate typical for developing countries. The food crisis of 2007-2008 increased the prices of food products, thus decreasing the accessibility of certain products. Combined the growing competition for land and water, it's becoming harder and harder for farmers to survive in the agricultural sector.
The competition threatening these farmers is not only local: large international companies and investors are buying agricultural land in developing countries to produce feedstock for biofuels or mine for natural resources.

Traditional agricultural techniques are responsible for a massive release of greenhouse gasses, accounting worldwide for 13,5% of all emissions, inducing global warming. At the same time climate changes increases the risks for farmers through changes in weather patterns and the increased risk of threatening weather phenomena.

Urgent action is needed to protect and stimulate the agricultural sector, not only in developing countries but also in developed countries. The agricultural production needs to increase drastically to eradicate world hunger in the present and in the future. New sustainable farming technologies need to be implemented into international and national policies.

These policy changes are however not happening, as debates about technologies and financing still rage and international negotiations keep failing. The present agricultural sector is a booming business that is not waiting for new and costly rules to be implemented into the market. Through lobbying they have been able to keep these policy changes at a hold. The climate deal of Warsaw is an example of their influence, as no important changes have been made.
The developing countries which are the first victims of this policy are not being heard in these debates and the future tends to look dark for them.

Source: FAO - Brochure

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