Feeding the World’s Population
According to World O Meters, a website that monitors population growth by day, there are more than 7.4 billion people on Earth right now. The world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, according to a recent UN report.
On July 11, the international community recognizes World Population Day and the issues surrounding how to ensure a thriving future for all its citizens. Oftentimes, the question of how to feed the world’s population is a topic of discussion and debate, along with food security and yields. However, rather than focusing solely on agricultural practices to maximize yields, there is a growing interest in regenerative agriculture, food waste and nutrition to create more sustainable sources of quality, nutrient-dense food.
Under current practices and conditions, global agriculture takes up 1/3 of total land mass, and currently consumes 75% of accessible fresh water. Feeding over 9 billion people by 2050 will require supporting and investing in resilient systems of food production. It must also be recognized that there is a culture of mass production that goes hand in hand with a culture of mass consumption. A sustainable future means striking a happy medium in maximizing production efficiency without sacrificing food’s nutritional value nor compromising the safety of our bodies or that of the environment to the broader exposure to synthetic elements. An increasing number of studies show that fertilizers reduce the fertility and the water-holding capacity of soil in the long run. Degraded soil is vulnerable to runoff and erosion and limits the growth of stabilizing plant roots. Worse yet, when soil has a harder time holding water, it makes crops ever more reliant on irrigation. Too much chemical fertilizer can also cause plant stress and weakens them, making them more vulnerable to diseases and insect attacks.
Investing in the Future of Agriculture and Food
That is why it is more important than ever to invest in sustainable and regenerative agriculture to ensure adequate food supplies into the future. This includes, not only producing more food and wasting less, but also ensuring the sustainability and impact of our food production and source. From securing seed freedom for farmers, implementing agricultural methods that restore the soil, stopping soil degradation and ultimately producing nutrient-abundant foods, sustainable and regenerative agriculture such as Natural Agriculture will be the long term solution and key to meeting the demands of our growing global population, as well as combating the effects of climate change.
The best sustainable agricultural practices not only source higher quality food (like ancient grains) for the benefit of human health, but also benefit – instead of harm – the ecosystem that they operate within. Nutrient-dense food and crops will also provide another element of sustainability, as they will have the capacity to sustain our bodies better and longer with less quantity. This will mean weaning us off of the culture of mass consumption and production and ultimately allowing us to focus on bettering the quality of food and the livelihoods of people around the globe.
In this way, we can ensure food for both today and tomorrow’s population. That is the future we must all strive towards.