Three interlinked challenges are to be surmounted, the worlds food system must guarantee that all seven billion people alive today are adequately fed; it must double food production in the next 40 years; and it must achieve both goals while becoming truly environmentally sustainable. One of the measures to do so is by using resources much more efficiently leading to a much higher crop output per unit of water, fertilizer and energy. To do so there are three different actions that agriculture can adopt throughout the world. The first one is knows as drip irrigation which is the technique of applying water directly onto the plant instead of wasting water by usually spraying into the air.
The second technique is mulching which is the action of coating the soil with organic matter in order for the moisture to be retained by the soil which will also reduce the water lost from irrigation systems as it will reduce the amount of evaporation let out from reservoirs and canals. Another dilemma comes from the use of fertilizers. While some lands lack many nutrients and therefore have poor crop production, other have too many nutrients which results in creating pollution. Many countries are believed to be able to reduce using fertilizers whit little or no impact on food production, examples are China, Northern India, Central U.S. and Western Europe.
Another measure that can be taken to fulfill the feeding of the worlds population is shifting our diet to an all plant diet. Shifting away from meat product as simple at it seems would have a huge impact on the food available for humans by using more of our crops to feed people directly and less to fatten livestock. Globally, humans could net up to three quadrillion additional calories every year a 50 percent increase from our current supply by switching to all-plant diets. (Foley, 2011) Moreover, switching to an all-plant diet has more benefits as a balanced diet made of grains and different types of vegetables is considered healthier than a diet composed of red meats along diary products. This measure is seen as the hardest and is in need of better understanding. Naturally our preferences are unlikely to change completely. Still, even small shifts in diet, say from grain-fed beef to poultry, pork or pasture-fed beef, can pay off. (Foley, 2011)
The most important measure that should highly be taken is reducing food waste in production and distribution. Although it may come off as an obvious measure, it is rarely followed. Roughly 30 to 40% of food in both the developed and developing worlds is lost to waste (Godfray et al, 2010) In the more developed countries, food waste tends to happen from the consumers side. Changing our consumption ways could have a significant effect on the losses we generate. Avoiding throwing food in the trash, avoiding overly big portions and avoiding restaurants and takeouts on a daily basis are all examples of how to reduce food waste.
In poorer countries however, food waste happens from the producers side. An under-developed base and markets leading to food not being delivered, crops wrecked by pests are all ways by which food is wasted in under-developed countries. There are several ways in which food wastage could be prevented, although no food wastage at all is nonsensical, a smaller amount of it is still achievable. Improved storage, refrigeration and distribution systems can cut waste appreciably. (Foley, 2011)
As said by Godfray et al, (2011) there is no simple solution to sustainably feeding 9 billion people. However different measures can be taken to maximize the output while using the resources at a rate that does not exceed the capacity of the earth to replace them. Achieving a reduction in the consumption, allowing introduction to cold storage and public investment in transport infrastructure would all lead to a more efficient food production system. The biggest challenge that will be confronted by society is coming up with ways to feed 9 billion people while being sustainable. It will require inventiveness, awareness, purposefulness and most importantly an extensive amount of labor. It will require people from all over the world to come together and work along one another. There is no time to lose.
Black, R 2010, Global population study launched by Royal Society. BBC News, viewed December 8th, 2013
Godfray, H. C. J., Benddington, J. R., Crute, I. R., Haddad, L, Lawrence ,D, Muir J F, et al. (2010). The challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science. p. 812-818
Nellmann, C, MacDevette, M, Manders, T, Eickhout, B, Svihus, B, Prins A, Kaltenborn B.P., (2009) The environmental food crisis. UN Environment Program
Foley, J, (2011) Can we feed the world ?, Scientific American, viewed December 8th, 2013