Feeding the billions

According to the latest United Nation’s reports, of the 7.2 billion people living on this planet 2.1 billion of them do not have enough food to eat.

Crop production in many countries has plateaued for many years, but the rise in population hasn’t. In recent years, the world has witnessed many failed seasons of crop production. Yet, there hasn’t been a famine anywhere, except for the countries in the African Continent.

It is not only food scarcity that has to be taken into account, or increasing food production. It is very essential that the governments of the world also remember famine’s brother, malnutrition. While it is important to increase the food production in the world, it is also important to have a variety in the production of crops. Along with it comes another obstacle, farm land. Majority of the world’s farming land has already been cultivated upon and increase in production for the crops via expansion of cultivable land is not an option.

Solution for this problem is to increase production of crops from the existing lands, increasing the productivity of land. Which means, producing more food from the same amount of land as before. Various agricultural technologies and methods are being developed for this very purpose. One such technology is, High Yield Variety seeds or H.Y.V. seeds. These seeds are genetically enhanced to increase the amount of crop that is produced from normal seeds provided by nature. They are also termed as ‘Miracle seeds’ as they not only increase the amount of production, but they are water economizing i.e. they use less water and labor intensive. Which means more employment can be generated from the use of these seeds.

The disadvantage of H.Y.V. seeds is that they are very difficult to manage. Farmers will have to be trained and educated and along with it, ready to use expensive inputs of insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers. They are also less resistant to droughts and floods and therefore require more protection. Due to the labor intensity required, the cost of production goes up making it an expensive method of increasing food production.

International cooperation among the countries is the most important solution. Free and fair trade relations along with transparency in innovations in agricultural technology is key to achieving global food security.

Currently the people are living in an illusion that there will always be enough food and is oblivious to the problems related to agriculture in the world. But they should know that if 2.1 billion are not being fed, then they too can be just as easily not get food. But if there’s a spark, even a tiny one and the world comes into mutual agreement and cooperation, then not only will the 2.1 billion be fed, they will be well fed.

Priyamvad Rai

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