Dirt and water

One of my passions is food – growing, cooking, sharing, eating. I am fairly new to the growing part, and because I only have a small space for a vegetable garden I am always concerned with improving my little bit of soil to maximise how much food I can grow. Now that I am based in Australia again one of the websites I always check is the daily and weekly weather forecast at www.bom.gov.au – particularly the radar to see if rain is heading my way so I don’t have to water the garden. Dirt and water, every day I think about it.

Today’s population of around 7 billion is expected to increase to about 9 billion by 2050. By this time, another one billion tonnes of cereals and 200 million extra tonnes of livestock products will need to be produced every year. The imperative for such agricultural growth is strongest in developing countries, where the challenge is not just to produce food but to ensure that families have access that will bring them food security.

Today almost 1 billion people are undernourished, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa (239 million) and Asia (578 million). In developing countries, even if agricultural production doubles by 2050, one person in twenty still risks being undernourished – equivalent to 370 million hungry people, most of whom will again be in Africa and Asia. Such growth would imply agriculture remaining an engine of growth, vital to economic development, environmental services and central to rural poverty reduction.

For nutrition to improve and for food insecurity and undernourishment to recede, future agricultural production will have to rise faster than population growth. This will have to occur largely on existing agricultural land. Improvements will thus have to come from sustainable intensification that makes effective use of land and water resources as well as not causing them harm.

The above words are from a new report just released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) concerning the state of global land and water resources. You can download the summary report here – read it, and think about where your food and water comes from now, and what you can do to ensure that we are all doing what we can to improve global food security.

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