Here Charlie Curry addresses the adverse issues upon future agriculture production resulting from a combined threat of Climate Change and booming populations. This post is from her blog Water: Filling Africa’s Stomach, which is part of her assessment for the Water and Development module.
Climate change and exponential population growth have both been identified as pending threats to future agricultural production (Sivakumar et al., 2005). Such pressures have created a need for achieving sustainable agriculture. The idea of achieving sustainability in the agricultural sector has been discussed extensively in both academia and politics (Garnett et al., 2013; Netting, 1993). Yet this is still to be achieved!
Chapter 14 of Agenda 21 states that by the year 2025, 83% of the expected global populations will be living in a developing country. Agriculture has yet to meet the demand of the present day without incorporating future needs. There is an urgency to meet these demands by increasing production of already cultivated land, whilst avoiding further encroachment on land unsuitable for agricultural use.
Figure 1: Timeline of the term Sustainable agriculture. Demonstrating the extent to which it has been discussed on a global scale.
This topic has been discussed extensively (demonstrated by figure 1). Most recently the ideology of achieving sustainable agriculture has been incorporated within the sustainable development goals (United Nations, 2015). Sustainable Development Goal Two: focuses on ending hunger. It aims to address the issues surrounding hunger, food security and malnutrition through achieving sustainable agricultural. Target 2.3 established issue of increased demand for food production with an aim to double agricultural yields by 2030.
Thoughts and reflections:
The sustainable development goals will have positive implications. Bringing attention and consequently funding to the issues of agriculture will never be an implication. Despite not meeting the targets, the MDGs focused donor funding and encouraged progress on the topic of hunger (the level of hunger dropping by 27% since 2000) (Sachs, 2012). Hunger is still currently an issue in Sub Saharan Africa as 23.8% of the total population are classed as chronically undernourished (Global Hunger Index, 2015). Furthermore future predictions of population growth (8.5 million by 2030) need to be encompassed into the target of the SDG goal 2.3. The predicted “doubling” in agricultural production will need to incorporate not only the current gap in hunger but also expected population growth, currently it is unclear if this has been accounted for. However uncertainty, associated with the extent and rate of population growth, may prevent this target from ever effectively achieving sustainable agriculture and hunger prevention.