‘Green bullet’ innovations aim to feed 9 billion
May 3rd 2012
In flood-hit fields in the Philippines, farmers are testing a hardy new variety of rice that can survive completely submerged for more than two weeks. In Kenya’s Kibera slum, poor urban families are turning around their diets and incomes just by learning to grow vegetables in sack gardens outside their doors. And in India, a push to help marginalised rural communities gain title to their land is leading to a significant drop in hunger. These are just a few of the kinds of innovations and intitiatives that experts say will be critical if the world is to feed itself over coming decades as the population soars, cities sprawl and climate change takes its toll.
By 2050, the planet will need at least 70 percent more food than it does today to meet both an expected rise in population to 9 billion from 7 billion and changing appetites as many poor people grow richer, experts say. ‘Can we feed a world of 9 billion? I would say the answer is yes,’ said Robert Watson, chief scientific adviser to Britain’s Department of Environment and Rural Affairs and a former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But doing so will require fundamental changes to unsustainable but well-entrenched policies and practices, from eating so much meat to spending trillions on agriculture and fuel subsidies, he said.
In the meantime, many hunger fighters say the answer lies in clever alterations to the way food is planted, watered, harvested, stored, transported, sold, owned and shared. Many of those changes are already being tested in the world’s farms and fields, in laboratories and government offices, in factories and markets. Some are even speaking of the beginnings of a 21st century food revolution. Unlike the last century’s agricultural ‘Green Revolution’, which dramatically boosted world food production with new high-yielding crop varieties and more irrigation, this revolution must rely on myriad “green bullets” to tackle hunger. They range from persuading farmers in Africa’s drought zones to switch from water-hungry rice to hardier crops like sorghum or millet, to helping them build pest-proof grain silos that allow food to be stored longer or sold when prices are higher.
Read the full article: Reuters AlertNet
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