The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges

“Almost one half of the forests that once covered the Earth are now gone. Groundwater sources are being depleted rapidly. Biodiversity has been deeply eroded…” according to FAO’s report “The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges”.

That is today, because in about 30 years (2050), things are going to change dramatically. You see, nearly 10 billion people will have to be fed which means that agriculture production will have to increase by around 50%. On the other hand, “climate change will affect every aspect of food production”, according to the exact same report. Are the planet’s food systems capable of sustainably meeting the needs of earth’s continuously increasing population? According to the experts, they are, under one condition: “Major transformations”. Without them, “more than 600 million people would still be undernourished in 2030”, the year by which the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda has targeted the eradication of chronic food insecurity and malnutrition. But, where will this food come from?

“Major transformations in agricultural systems, rural economies and natural resource management will be needed if we are to meet the multiple challenges before us and realize the full potential of food and agriculture to ensure a secure and healthy future for all people and the entire planet…” according to the report. “High-input, resource-intensive farming systems, which have caused massive deforestation, water scarcities, soil depletion and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, cannot deliver sustainable food and agricultural production”. That is why we have to focus on the meaning of three little words: More with less. That’s the core challenge – producing more by using less and preserving the livelihoods of small-scale and family farmers. In this way, access to food by the most vulnerable, can be ensured.

The conclusion

“We need to shift to more sustainable food systems which make more efficient use of land, water and other inputs and sharply reduce their use of fossil fuels, leading to a drastic cut of agricultural green-house gas emissions, greater conservation of biodiversity, and a reduction of waste. This will necessitate more investment in agriculture and agrifood systems, as well as greater spending on research and development. All these could lead in promoting innovation, supporting sustainable production increases, and finding better ways to cope with issues like water scarcity and climate change”.

Photo: Jordan Nelson via Unsplash

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