Achieving food security

17 September 2019

A team of researchers are assessing how one can reduce inequalities in access to food without drastically increasing agricultural production. 

Tiffany Hionas

A new study led by a group of researchers from International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and colleagues in Japan explore hunger eradication strategies that will feed a growing population without overwhelming the environment.

According to the UN, the population is projected to become 9.8 billion by 2050 and will likely have two billion more mouths to feed.

Historically, a very common solution to meeting the dietary needs of a growing population is by increasing food production through agricultural intensification and expansion.

Inevitably, by increasing agricultural production, this will have negative effects on the environment, as an increase in agriculture only intensifies the output of greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss.

When assessing hunger eradication strategies, it is important to consider the role food security plays; food security exists when individuals have both physical and economic access to food, and to offset fluctuations in global supply, ensuring a constant availability of food.

The team focus on an alternative strategy to eliminating hunger, which is to bridge the nutrition gaps among undernourished populations through government support programmes e.g school-feeding programs, vouchers for food, safety nets. This could deliver immediate results without the need to wait for economic growth.

This paper demonstrates that to provide enough food, only a marginal increase in agricultural production is necessary, delivering limited trade-offs with the environment. Furthermore, policies related to food waste, hunger and agriculture productivity growth should be further addressed to tackle this global concern. 

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