Science, technology and knowledge sharing can help provide food for 9 billion people in 2050 if we are able to fulfill the following five promises to ensure global food security:
- Balance food security and appropriate nutrition
If we are keen to solve the problem of malnutrition then we will have to come up with an appropriate mix of horticultural and staple crops. In fact, a good number of local crop varieties (both vegetables or fruits) that are neglected today have proved to be a great source of nutrition. Hence, we should allow the farmers to experiment with varied crop mixes which may be able to resist the onslaught of invasive pests and diseases.
- Accept new technologies for knowledge transfer
. Around 40 percent of the global food produced is gobbled down or destroyed by pests and diseases, which could be checked through advisory services provided via mobile phone messages or voice calls. An innovative mobile information network could act as a great educational and informative tool for farmers to not only save their crops worldwide but also connect them with the local markets.
- Acquire a balanced ‘landscape’ approach
The problem of food security could be dealt by developing countries at the landscape level as agriculture is basically all about making landscapes profitable. This sustainable agriculture approach aims at coming up with solutions which take into their fold the entire mix of the heterogeneous interactions among people and the environment, agricultural as well as non-agricultural systems, and also the transnational aspects of landscapes where they cross national boundaries.
- Check invasive species
Non-native invasive species are a grave threat to agriculture since there are no natural enemies to check their onslaught. With no effective resistance, these invasive species (whether plants or insects) are successful in destroying crops and killing livestock.
The attack of invasive species could be checked through a number of biological and natural measures. Invasive species cause an annual damage of about One Trillion US Dollars to the global economy. The spread of these deadly species could be controlled through the introduction of their natural enemies, like enemy insects or plants.
Our planet Earth has already reached a super-saturation stage in terms of its natural resources, whereas we still require more water, more land and also more energy to feed the hungry billions worldwide. And, the challenge before the world community is to grow more food in the coming half-century than we did in the past 10,000 years.
But the extent of today’s challenge is unprecedented in human history – to produce more food in the next 50 years than in the past 10,000. Food security is not simply providing food to over 800 million people globally, it also entails organizing 2000 liters of water everyday just to grow food for a single person.
Scientific research unfolds that we can strengthen global food security by reviving our forgotten foods from the past. In fact, around 30 percent of the global population lack the requisite vitamins and minerals (or micronutrients) for proper growth and development of the human body.
An alternative approach
Adopting agricultural biodiversity simply means that we must accept all crops including their wild relatives, trees, livestock and landscapes as a source of nutritious foods to ensure global food security.
Going back to our roots and reviving edible plants and organisms from the past would provide people sustainable diets of high-quality and protect our agriculture as well as the environment worldwide.
Inclusion of grains such as amaranth, jute leaves, Bambara groundnuts, edible spider plant, fruits like guavas, bitter melon and sweet bananas, traditional vegetables such as amaranth, and produce from native trees in our diet can provide the much-needed micronutrients essential for appropriate growth and development of the human body.[This article is a part of a series of 2 articles]