Feeding eight billion people well
- 1 New food era
- 2 Leaders in land acquisition
- 3 Raising land productivity
- 4 Raising water productivity
- 5 Producing protein more efficiently
- 6 Localization of agriculture
- 7 Strategic reductions in demand
- 8 Action on many fronts
- 9 Discussion: Food supply
1 New food era
Feeding 8 billion within the next two decades
Record-high grain prices in the past few years
Restriction on grain exports by grain-exporting countries
Acquisition of vast land abroad by grain-importing countries
- Countries selling their land do not have enough land to feed their own people
- Future conflicts between the land grabbers and hungry local people
2 Leaders in land acquisition
The many faces of land grabbing—Cases from Africa and Latin America
2.1 Saudi Arabia
Losing irrigation water to aquifer depletion
Wheat harvest ↓
Saudi agricultural investment abroad—land grab or benign strategy?
- Stimulated by the food price crisis of 2007/2008
- They had ample oil money for more expensive food imports, but
- Many food-producing countries imposed a ban on food exports!
2.1.1 Not without issues
The rush for land, water and other essential natural resources has become a curse for indigenous and minority peoples who barely have legal protection and redress.
2.2 South Korea
Depends on corn imports to feed livestock
Its principal supplier—US—diverts more corn to fuel production
Republic of Korea’s acquisitions of agricultural land in foreign countries as of 2016 (in hectares)
Extent of agricultural land-grab revealed on new website
South Korea’s attempt to buy a third of all Madagascar’s arable land led to the fall of the country’s president
Losing irrigation water to aquifer depletion and melting mountain glaciers
Political economy of land grabbing inside China involving foreign investors
- China is also a host for land grabbing, not for food, but for industrial tree plantations (ITPs)
- Pulp and paper production
2.4 Competition for land
Competition for water and food
3 Raising land productivity
Investment in agriculture by international agencies has lagged.
Only some stronger countries such as China and Brazil moved ahead.
Prior to 1950: Expansion of food supply came about with the increase in dedicated cropland acreage
1950–2008 (post WWII): Shift to focus on productivity rather than acquiring more land ⇒ Grain yield tripled
One of the most spectacular achievements
- 1950–1973: Grain harvest doubled
- Growth during the 23 years = Growth during the preceding 11,000 years
World grainland productivity increased
- By 2.1% per year from 1950–1990
- By 1.3% per year from 1990–2008
3.1 Recent gains in land productivity from three sources
3.1.1 Growing use of fertilizer
14 million tons in 1950 ⇒ 175 million tons in 2008
US, Western Europe, Japan: Fertilizer use leveled off
China and India use more fertilizer, but they’re getting there too
3.1.2 Spread of irrigation
World irrigated area: 94 million hectares in 1950 ⇒ 278 million hectares in 2000
Raising irrigation efficiency than expanding irrigation water supplies
3.1.3 Development of higher-yielding varieties
Initial breakthrough from Japan
- Dwarfing wheat and rice plants in the late 19th century
- Less photosynthate going into straw, more going into grain ⇒ Doubling yields
Corns in the United States
- Genetic modification
3.2 Yields leveling off
Signs of yields leveling off
- Wheat: 7 tons per hectares in France and Egypt
- Rice: 5 tons per hectares in China, Japan, and South Korea
- Corn: Only crop that is continuing to rise
Despite dramatic leaps in grain yields
- It is becoming more difficult to expand world food output
- There is little productive new land ⇒ Cannot expand irrigation
4 Raising water productivity
Water shortages constrain food production growth
- 1,000 tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain
- 70% of world water use for irrigation
- Raise irrigation efficiency ⇒ Raising water productivity
How do we get more water?
- Switching flood water to low-pressure sprinkler systems reduces water use by 30%
- Drip irrigation for small farms
- Vertical farming
How do we make irrigation water more efficient?
- Surface water irrigation efficiency is not 100%
- Evaporation, percolation, run-off
- Affected by soil type, temperature, and humidity
4.1 Water management
Water users associations reduce the drain on government revenue.
Responsibility for irrigation management: Government agencies ⇒ Local water users
4.2 Water prices
Low water productivity is often related to lower water prices.
Subsidies lead to lower water prices.
Gives the impression that water is abundant when in fact it is not.
Did you know? A glass of water anywhere else in the world is not free to the consumer.
5 Producing protein more efficiently
World meat consumption increased from 44 million tons to 260 million tons between 1950–2007.
Consumption of milk and eggs has also increased.
Global fish farm production to meet fish supply demands: Sustainable fishing methods (16 mins)
Soybeans are how vegetarians mainly supplement protein in diet ⇒ Larger quantities feed animals for meat protein.
China, US, Brazil are largest meat producers.
India and China have raised protein productivity
- By feeding livestock with residuals (leftover waste from grain production)
- Rather than soybean protein or grains that could be used for food
6 Localization of agriculture
In US, interest in eating locally grown foods has risen
- Schoolhouse gardens
- Urban gardening
- Farmers’ markets
- Travels 56 miles
Food from distant locations
- Increasing Carbon emissions
- Losing flavor and nutrition
- Travels 1,500 miles
7 Strategic reductions in demand
Reduce demand by
- Stabilizing population,
- Moving down the food chain, and
- Reducing the use of grain to fuel cars
Need reproductive healthcare and birth control services to the 201 million women who
- Want to plan family size, but
- Lack the means to do so
People who live at the intermediate level of the food chain are healthier and live the longest
- We need protein for better health, but too much animal protein causes diseases
Reduce need to focus on grain production for other uses than food supply
8 Action on many fronts
It’s not just the responsibility of agriculture, but all aspects of government agencies.
The US can restrict grain production as fuel.
Individuals can ride bikes, take public transit, or just travel less.
- We must reduce carbon emissions
Individuals can buy locally grown foods.
Eat less meat.
9 Discussion: Food supply
Future of food: Watch this and more related videos about the current problems we faced in food supply and do some research about what kind of efforts people and researchers are making to address those food supply issues. Please present problems and those ideas.