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Diminishing resources test food security

Update: August, 31/2015 - 09:44
With the increasing impacts of climate change and dwindling natural resources, providing food security for a burgeoning population is a challenge for global agriculture, especially in the Asia-Pacific. — Photo infonet.vn

HCM CITY (VNS) — With the increasing impacts of climate change and dwindling natural resources, providing food security for a burgeoning population is a challenge for global agriculture, especially in the Asia-Pacific, an international non-profit has warned.

Speaking at a workshop held recently in HCM City, Randy A. Hautea, global co-ordinator of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Application (ISAAA), said food production must increase by 70 per cent by 2050 to meet rising demand.

Asia accounts for nearly 60 per cent of the world's population but only a third of arable land and water resources. Already a large number of people in the world are undernourished and many others currently live in countries chronically short of water, and that's expected to increase in the coming decades, he said.

In addition, climate change is causing extreme weather conditions – flooding in some regions, drought in others.

Along with industrialisation and urbanisation, the arable land area is shrinking in many countries, he said.

The challenge for farmers is to learn how to sustainably produce more food with a finite base of arable land, saline intrusion and dwindling natural resources, he said.

Technology plays an important role in resolving the challenges, he said.

Plant science technologies have helped farmers increase production to keep up with the world's growing demand for food in the past 50 years and future production requires greater adoption of innovative technologies, he said.

‘Trapped in poverty'

Anni Mitin, executive director of the Southeast Asia Council for Food Security and Fair Trade, said small farmers cultivate 80 per cent of available arable land in Asia and produce the majority of food to feed the world, but are "still trapped in poverty, struggling to feed their own family".

Besides vulnerability to climate change, small landholders have difficulty accessing capital, the market and technology, she said.

Having limited market information, they struggle to get a fair price for their produce, obtaining only a small percentage of retail prices, she said, adding that those in remote areas often have little choice but to sell to traders and cannot dictate the terms of trade.

Rick Van Der Camp, senior operations officer at the IFC (World Bank Group), said the high risks involved in agriculture are among the factors preventing farmers from getting bank loans.

Mitin said to overcome vulnerabilities, farmers need accurate and timely information, training, knowledge, and technologies besides access to financial resources. — VNS

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