In the past 20 years, Food security has become a major discussion topic on the global agenda. Everyone, from local communities to international NGOs and the United Nations Secretary General, has become increasingly worry about the pending food crises and the fact that we will soon be unable to feed our increasing population.
According to the forecasts of the UN Population Division, by 2050 more than 9 billion persons will have to be fed with the same resources available for 7 billion today. This means that an increasing pressure is put on agriculture, agricultural research and several other fields that are trying to push the limits of knowledge in order to find that “one of a kind” solution to “feed the world“.
If you search the Internet for “Global Food Security Solutions“, your search will give you a few tens of millions of results. It seems that every university, company, researcher, government, NGO out there has developed a solution to feed the world. If we only consider this Google search, we are saved. We have only to stop wasting our food (we waste each year approximately 1 billion tons of food, of which 2/3 at farm gate level), increase yields by 70% (in the past 50 years yields have increased by around 2.3%/year), develop new agricultural practices to grow more on less land (as the surfaces dedicated to agriculture are decreasing each year with the expansion of cities -> by 2050 70% of the world`s population will live in urban areas) and many, many other things.
Taking into consideration this high interest in “feeding the world”, we also have to consider the “interest” in agriculture. As agriculture is “NOT COOL“, less young people go into the agricultural field. This happens despite organizations such as YPARD or the CGIAR have started promoting agriculture as a profession in a time when global youth unemployment is at a record high (75 million people globally according to ILO and 358 million are NEETs -> not in Education, Employment or Training). Also, agriculture is one of the industries that demands huge resources (70% of all fresh water is used for agriculture) that shows low ROI`s for their investors while also facing major regulatory problems (agriculture is one of the most regulated areas in the world).
So, according to Google search, we have about 62.8 million solutions for global food security to try. With 870 million people going to bed hungry every night, it seems that there is time to test thoroughly each solution. And the world population is increasing as we speak (with 75 million people/year) meaning that the number of undernourished increases as well.
I believe that there isn`t a unique way of handling the food security issue. We can`t feed the world (Sir Gordon Conway) by writing books and doing analysis of past experiences or by asking just for some things to get better (UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon) in order to solve CURRENT day crises.
In order to end world hunger and to prevent a future crisis for happening we need an integrated approach that takes into account every innovative idea on food security that can come from the most unlikely places (such as the TFF Challenge teams or Social Media).
We need to focus on:
– renewing agricultural education in order to provide youth with a viable alternative to the present unemployment crisis;
– reducing food waste by using them as agricultural inputs while, at the same time, they contribute to reducing the costs of inputs (manure/fertilizers) and food prices and decrease the usage of chemicals in crops;
– decreasing the costs of agricultural inputs (such as energy) by introducing sustainable alternative;
– creating and promoting alternative agricultural practices that require less land, less energy, less water etc. to produce the same (or more) amount of food;
– encouraging the promotion of biodiversity and the usage of alternative foods in the kitchen, especially through the introduction of new species with an increase nutrient content;
– making agriculture “COOL” again in order to ensure the sustainability of the agri-food chain by growing a new generation of young agriculturalists;
– developing better human oriented public policies that can create the premises for a just, non-discriminatory, hungry free world;
– engaging everyone in the fight for ending world hunger as not only Africa or Asia suffer of undernourishment;
– hearing what everyone considers a solution and try to see how feasible it is.
I believe that the perfect solution should be a global food security programme (NOT POLICY) that would have as objectives: the reduction of food waste, increasing the competitiveness of farmers (both smallholder and industrial, but with keeping a healthy ratio between them in every country), increasing the use of renewable energies in agriculture (in order to reduce the costs incurred by fossil fuels), implementing new technologies as they become available (by reducing regulatory burdens) and growing a new generation in agriculture and using its creativity to have a food secure world (half of the world`s population right now is under 25 years old).
My opinion on Global Food Security may not be the best opinion in a sea of over 60 million options laid out. But I consider that if we tap into the creativity of young people and help them grow, we have a chance of ending world hunger.
This is why I consider that the best option that we have right now are youth in agriculture.