The global food insecurity is still a leading problem in the developing world. Around 108 million people in 48 food crisis-affected countries are still at risk or in severe acute food insecurity in 2016 (According to the Global Report on Food Crises 2017). The Global Report on Food Crisis 2017 was an outcome of a study by collaborating organizations in the European Union, USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET), regional food security institutions, UN agencies including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Prize and the UN International Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
This is even amidst massive and collective efforts of international organizations to address food challenges. The 108 million people experiencing food insecurity in 2016 is a significant increase from the 80 million people in 2015, and reflects the enormity of the problem that these people face in terms of accessing food due to conflict, the record high food prices in local markets, and extreme weather conditions.
According to United Nations the global population in 2017 reached 7.6 billion and is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. According to ISAAA brief 2017, roughly 83 million people are added to the world’s population every year, and the upward trend is expected to continue, even if the fertility levels will continue to decline.
Food experts for a long time believed that food production must double by 2050 to feed the world’s growing population. However, researchers at Pennsylvania State University (2017) suggest that production likely will need to increase from 25% to 70% to meet the 2050 food demand. The authors, supported by data, believe that in the coming decades, agriculture will not only feed people, but must also ensure a healthy environment. To attain the agriculture for the 2050 population, quantitative targets need to be set both for food production and environmental impacts, and they must be treated as equal parts of agriculture’s grand challenge.
According to the researchers, in the need to increase food production to feed the 2050 population, agriculture’s environmental impact has been increasing and it has to drop dramatically in order to maintain clean water and stabilize climate. In addition, farmers will need to ramp up efforts to hold nutrients in their fields, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve soil health; this is where biotech crops will contribute immensely to agriculture that is sustainable, bountiful and profitable.
Pakistan being a developing country has the same issue. The lack of political will is effecting the commitment to ensure the eradication of food security issues in the country. This is the time where we need to realize the need and importance of technology and genetically modified crops. Pakistan’s climate has changed a lot over the years and by keeping in mind the water crisis all over the country we have to make amendments in our ways of farming in time so that when the time come Pakistan can produce enough food for its population.
—Writer is a freelance journalist and researcher based in Islamabad.