The world needs to secure its food resources
June 29th, 2011
An article by Rita A. Widiadana and Desy Nurhayati posted on The Jakarta Post on the conference on biodiversity, food security and climate change which took place in Nusa Dua, Bali
The conference in Bali took place as the world is on the brink of a food crisis.
1.5 billion farmers in the world have been facing drastic climate changes, which means for them much less income and a considerably higher risk of poverty and starvation.
Only in the 20th century, 90% of diversity of the most important crops has disappeared.
Food prices have increased of almost 30%, and this is likely to cause political instability and to contribute even more to poverty and hunger.
Besides weather changes and disasters, such as floods and draughts, also the rapid growth of the world’s population, which is estimated to be of 9 billion within 2050, is threatening food security.
Clive Stannard, an expert from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said that “The growing number of extreme weather events — long droughts, floods, hurricanes, the likelihood of pest and disease migrations will have devastating impacts on crop production, especially in the tropical and subtropical regions of South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa,” and he added that all the world’s countries, both developed and developing, are facing the problem of a food crisis and the increase of food prices.
Shakeel Bhatti, the secretary of the Treaty’s governing body, said that “With climate change already altering farming conditions and the population rapidly increasing, preserving and sharing crop diversity on a global scale is no longer optional”.
He also said that since no country on Earth has in its border the necessary diversity to meet the future needs, they urgently need to improve the way they share seeds and crop materials.
The uncomforting FAO’s data showed that hungry people have increased from 840 million in 2003 to 1 billion in 2010, and the most harrowing and menacing fact is that every five seconds a child dies from hunger-related illness.
Furthermore, the data showed that while, in the past, humankind had used more than 7000 species to produce food, now two thirds of the world’s food is genereted only by twelve plants and five animal species.
Pepe Esquinas-Alcázar, a professor and director of the Center for Studies on Hunger and Poverty at the University of Cordoba, Spain, and former secretary on genetic resources for food and agriculture, said that this is the consequence of the Green Revolution, which has substituted millions of varieties in uniformed and homogenous varieties.
“You can only select what you need if there is diversity. If everything is homogenous, you don’t have anything to select. That is the idea – the importance of biodiversity. Less diversity means more vulnerability.”
He then said we are destroying the basis of food and agriculture, which are necessary in order to cope with the unpredictable environmental changes and humankind’s needs in the future.
“Therefore, the cooperation of countries and continents worldwide to solve this kind of problem is not a choice, it is a must.”