The rural world which is home to about three-quarters of the world’s poorest people faces profound challenges in terms of its limited resources such as water, land, and its younger people. Agriculture can help reduce poverty, raise incomes and improve food security for a majority of poor who lives in rural areas. The decline in the share of agriculture in total production and employment is causing serious challenge across region even though much agricultural investments and technological innovations are boosting its productivity. This paper discuss about the trends and challenges to the future of food and agriculture sector. The trends includes the population growth, deforestation, climate changes, agricultural innovation, transboundary pests and diseases, poverty, changes in food system, conflicts and natural disasters. The challenges of the food and agriculture sectors facing mainly includes spread of transboundary pests and diseases of plants and animals, degradation of natural resources, migration from rural areas and changes in nutrient content of foods.
Key words: poverty, deforestation, nutrient content
The agricultural and food industry is facing huge challenges. It has to feed a rapidly growing world population while at the same time ensuring the best-possible conservation of our scarce natural resources. Increasingly extreme weather conditions such as droughts and flooding, limited arable land and changing dietary habits make this task even more demanding. The majority of extremely poor people lives in marginal areas and relies on small-scale agriculture. While the world currently produces enough food to feed everyone, at least one billion people remain food insecure.
The migrations to metropolitan cities from rural areas are at their highest levels due to industrialization. Much of humanity’s progress has come at a considerable cost to the environment. The impacts of climate change are already being felt and it will intensify considerably in the years ahead. Globally integrated production processes have brought many benefits. The purpose of this report is to increase understanding of the challenges that food and agriculture sector are facing now and hereafter. It analysis most of the major global trends and challenges to achieve food security and nutrition for all and making agriculture sustainable.
2. Trends in food and agriculture sector:
The following section mainly concentrates seven important trends that will shape the future of food and the livelihoods of those depending on food and agricultural systems. Most of the trends are strongly inter-connected.
2.1 Population growth, Urbanization and Conflicts:
Global population growth is slowing, but Africa and Asia will still see a large population expansion. By 2050, the world’s population will have grown to nearly 10 billion. The Two-thirds of these people will live in cities. The projected growth in the world’s population is likely to be concentrated in Africa and South Asia and in the world’s cities. It could seriously risk the overall development prospects of these regions, as they rely on agriculture for employment and income generation. More over the agriculture cannot expand due to stressed land and water resources.
The one of the major factor for food insecurity and malnutrition is a surge in the number of conflicts especially in last decade. About half of the world’s poor live in states characterized by fragility and conflict. The highest levels of malnourishment noticed in the countries those affected by violent conflict. Conflicts entail the physical destruction and plundering of crops, livestock and food reserves, while recruitment into fighting forces drains key sources of labour. They have become a global issue with the displacement of people and migration, such as in the case of the ongoing civil war in the Syrian Arab Republic.
2.2 Global economic growth and food prices:
The economic growth could accelerate dietary transitions and drive up agricultural demand. Economic growth has been sizeable in the last decades due to developments in low- and middle income countries. The rapid income growth in developing countries has given rise to a global middle class. This growth enables acceleration in dietary transitions. The more demand for food is changing towards higher consumption of meat and dairy products and other more resource-intensive food items. This carries serious implications for the sustainable use of natural resources. The economic growth in emerging countries has serious impact on future levels of food prices.
2.3 Natural Resources:
The expansion of agricultural land continues to be the main cause of deforestation. Almost half of the forests that once covered the planet are now gone. Groundwater sources are being rapidly depleted. Biodiversity has been severely eroded. Every year, the burning of fossil fuels emits billions of tones of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The result is global warming and climate change.
The most of the countries planning to use bioenergy as an alternate to fossil fuels cause the maximum utilization of natural resources for energy. The consumption of cereals, oilseeds and sugarcane for the production of biofuels has increased due to use of biomass as a substitute for petrochemicals. The greater competition between food and non-food uses of biomass has strengthened the interdependence between food, feed and energy markets. For example, around two-thirds of the bioenergy used worldwide involves the traditional burning of wood and other biomass for cooking and heating. The huge demand from agriculture, industry and cities has led to water scarcity. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that over 40 percent of the world’s rural population lives in river basins that are classified as water scarce.
2.4 Climate Change:
The food production, food security and nutrition will be affected by climate change. The less reliable supplies of water and high temperatures will also create severe hardships for small-scale livestock producers. The increasing variability of precipitation and frequency of droughts and floods are likely to reduce the crop yields. The number and intensity of natural disasters has risen over the past 30 years. The climate change’s impact not only restricted to food supply but also to food quality, access and utilization and the stability of food security.