Across the world, 850 million people in 77 lower-income countries are food insecure, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Lack of access to adequate food is closely linked to poverty. War, disease, environmental degradation and a host of other issues limit people’s access to enough nourishment to live a healthy life.
The majority of undernourished people reside in developing countries, most of which are on the continents of Africa and Asia. Price and yield volatility will continue to rise if extreme weather prevails and put food security at risk. Growth in world population and climate change are the major challenges for food security. Global food production will have to rise 70 percent by 2050 as the world population expands to 9.1 billion, according to the FAO. Food security, poverty and climate change cannot be seen separately. Opportunities also exist to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and increase soil carbon sequestration while still helping meet food security objectives. Climate-Smart Agriculture can be a driver for green growth.
The World Bank’s Food Price Index showed international prices of wheat fell by 2 percent, sugar by 6 percent, soybean oil by 11 percent, and maize, or corn, by 1 percent during the four-month period between February and June 2013.Improved weather conditions after last year’s droughts helped bolster the production of wheat. World Bank expects good harvests from the major producers to continue as long as unfavorable weather in northern and central Europe, Russia and China does not drag on production. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have urged countries to scrap subsidies on consumer food to ease pressures on government budgets and free up more funds for health and education spending.
There are various measures to promote food security. Some of them include integrating food security and sustainable agriculture into both global and national policies, raising the level of agricultural investment, sustainably increasing agricultural production, assisting vulnerable populations to adapt to climate change, reshaping food access and consumption patterns, ensure basic nutritional needs are met, reducing the amount of food lost or wasted in production and establishing comprehensive, shared and integrated information systems to track changes in land use, food production and climate change.
GCC countries are debating long term strategic food reserves and working on strategies to secure their food supplies. GCC had import dependency mainly on vegetables, meat and cereals. GCC are classified by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation as suffering from absolute water scarcity. The GCC countries are drawing several times over their natural replenishment rates. As a result, water reserves are becoming saline and depleted. Agriculture, which generally uses groundwater, uses a lion’s share of total conventional water use.
In December 2012 GCC countries agreed to establish companies that would work to achieve food security in the region, in light of unstable global food markets and limited agricultural lands and water resources. GCC also agreed to draft a unified strategy for cooperation with other Arab countries that have agricultural land, including Sudan, Morocco and Yemen, as well as with African countries. They plan to use state-of-the-art solar technologies to produce sufficient desalinated water to grow certain crops in the region.The GCC will launch a global dry land alliance in 2014 to deal with water scarcity and food security in 51 countries. The Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) is developing a long-term strategy that will enable Qatar to increase its domestic food production significantly in the coming decades and strengthen the security of its remaining imports. A plan is under development by QNFSP which focuses on areas such as techno farming, dedicated water resource, involvement of private players and capacity building.