Achieving food security for 9 billion - November 2012


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Presentation by Chris Leaver, Oxford University
Delivered at the B4FA Media Dialogue Workshop, Kampala, Uganda - November 2012

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Achieving food security for 9 billion - November 2012

  1. 1. The Challenge of Achieving Food Security and Sustainability for Nine Billion Old Byzantine Proverb: ‘He who has bread may have troubles He whoAchieving Food Security lacks it has only one’ and Sustainability for Nine Billion
  2. 2. We are dependent on cultivated plant species as the software to translate the sun’s energy, water and mineral nutrients into food, fibre and fuels In Many Countries Productive Agriculture is Seasonal . CHLOROPHYLL: Is the only the molecule that can be seen from space. It is found in all Green Plants and is responsible for capturing the light energy from the Sun by a process know as PHOTOSYNTHESIS
  3. 3. PHOTOSYNTHESIS • Life on earth ultimately depends on energy derived from the sun. • Photosynthesis by green plants is the only process of biological importance that can capture this energy. • It provides energy, organic matter and oxygen, and is the only sustainable energy source on our planet. Sucrose Starch Proteins Oils THE FOOD WE EAT Plants provide the food we eat, the environment we enjoy & the air we breathe.
  4. 4. CHALLENGES IN YOUR LIFETIME Humans appropriate about 30% of terrestrial photosynthetic production and and ca 32% of the planets land area for cropland(12%) and pasture(20%) 1. What level is truly sustainable, how much do we need to share with other species and how can we optimise the usefulness and beneficial impact of what we can harvest in the future? 2. How can we deliver global food security to avoid predicted deficits as early as 2020 and to deliver an environmentally sustainable doubling of crop production by 2050?. There are 7.0 billion people on earth now and this will increase to ca. 9 billion by 2050 2. How can we reduce our dependence on, and ultimately replace petrochemicals with renewable chemical feed stocks from plants? 4. How can we combat climate change,global warming and drought and minimise its impact on crop productivity?
  5. 5. The European Vision of Agriculture: Garden of Earthly Delight or Paradise Lost? Peter Bruegel the Elder: The Harvest (1565) (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. USA)
  6. 6. The Reality of Prairie Agriculture Soybean Harvest and Corn Cultivation in Mato Grosso, Brazil
  8. 8. Agriculture is a success story and has kept pace with the increase in population over the centuries……. The Eurocentric Vision of Agriculture: Garden of Earthly Delight or Paradise Lost? Peter Bruegel the Elder (1565) The Reality:Prarie Agriculture In Mato Grosso-Brazil Soybean Harvest and Corn Cultivation Agriculture in Africa
  9. 9. Today we could feed everyone on the planet thanks to plant breeding and modern agriculture but now and in the future making sure everyone has enough to eat is about politics (access,distribution etc---) and science……. • More than 1 billion people go hungry daily about 250 million are in Africa • About 30,000 people, half of them children, die every day due to hunger and malnutrition • More than 3 billion people are living in absolute poverty on less than two dollars a day and are generally deficient in at least one nutrient necessary for maintaining their health. They have real problems with food security. • 650 Million of the Poorest Live in Rural Areas “In the next 50 years, mankind will consume as much food as we have consumed since the beginning of agriculture 10,000 years ago - Clive James”
  10. 10. Four innovations brought about the change in agriculture and increased yield in the twentieth century • Productivity steadily increased with only a 10% increase in land use : – Mechanisation and irrigation – Synthetic fertilisers – Crop protection chemicals – Plant Breeding and Geneticsthe ‘Green revolution’ • The effect of these four innovations was to allow more food to be produced from less land- • The developed complacent!! • What are the innovations which will change agriculture in this century? world became Source: WBC for Sustainable Agriculture, Crop Losses to Pests (E-C Oerke); Journal of Agricultural Science (2006) 2/12/2014 10
  11. 11. But this has been at a cost……….. To feed and resource 7.0 billion people we have already lost….. •1/5 of our topsoil (due to erosion, desertification and salinity) •1/5 of our agricultural land (overgrazing marginal land) •1/3 of our forests •Plus Today Additionally….. •Environmental pollution •Climate change, groundwater depletion •Depletion of the Ozone layer •Massive fossil fuel usage/CO2 increase by 15% since 1950 •Species extinction, biodiversity loss •Urbanisation → increased meat consumption (India and China etc) •Obesity/starvation •Zoonotic disease transmission HIV, SARs, BSE, Foot and Mouth, Bird Flu etc THIS IS UNSUSTAINABLE : DOING NOTHING IS NOT AN OPTION
  12. 12. The worlds population has more than doubled in the last 50 years Each Year the World’s Population Grows by about 80 Million People 220,000 new mouths to feed everyday 2012 1960 10% of the Population Lives on 0.5% of the World’s Income Developing and Transition Countries 1927 Developed countries
  13. 13. Demand is driven by population growth and land scarcity People fed per hectare World population 2030 2030 >5 people >8 billion 2005 >4 people 2005 6.5 billion 1950 2.5 billion 1960 2 people Source: FAO, World Bank statistics As a result 1 in 6 of the world’s population, is hungry today, and we have to increase food production by 70-100% by 2050
  14. 14. Increases in global population and urbanisation… World population growth by region Urbanisation 10 Oceania Population (billions) 9 Northern America 8 Latin America 7 Europe 6 Asia 5 Africa 4 3 2 1 Source: United Nations, World Population The largest increases in population will Prospects: The 2006 Revision (medium scenario) occur in megacities in Africa and Asia. 2050 2045 2040 2035 2030 2025 2020 2015 2010 2005 2000 1995 1990 1985 1980 1975 1970 1965 1960 1955 1950 0 More than 50% of the worlds population already live in urban areas it will rise to 70%.
  15. 15. And now man made global warming and climate change….. Carbon dioxide levels over the last 60,000 years Crop productivity is highly vulnerable to variations in climate Models suggest that climate change will have a positive or neutral effect on crop yields at high latitudes but negative effects at low latitudes Increased CO2 (from the current 385 ppm set to rise to 450ppm) raises some yields Lack of water limits others Spectrum of pests and disease change
  16. 16. Climate Change is leading to unpredictable and more severe weather patterns
  17. 17. Food Security, Poverty and Climate Change
  18. 18. The Challenge : • World population will grow from 7bn 2011 to >9bn by 2050 • More than 50% of the worlds population already live in urban areas and it will rise to 70% • The largest increases in population will occur in megacities in Africa and Asia • Increasing affluence in Asia drives demand for meat, cereals, edible oils • Over 1bn people chronically hungry. 3 billion in poverty • Land available for agriculture will stay ~ constant or decrease • Decreasing water supplies limit crop yields
  19. 19. and……… •Climate warming is broadly neutral on global yields but will have significant negative impact on those countries with the greatest need. Leading to changes in the distribution and severity of plant pests and disease,rising sea levels,flooding,severe drought, decline in soil quality (eg erosion,salinity) •Increase in yields of major staple crops is plateauing •Diversion of resources into growing energy crops for biofuels rather than food crops 70- 100% more food required on same land area, with improved sustainability, fairer distribution and adaption to climate change
  20. 20. The food system is failing on sustainability - defined as….. ‘Meeting the needs of the present while improving the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ •Agriculture currently consumes 70% of total global water withdrawals from rivers and aquifers, many of which are overexploited. Global water demand for agriculture could rise by over 30% by 2030 and double by 2050. •Of 11.5 billion ha of vegetated land on earth, around 24% has undergone human induced soil degradation • Agriculture and forestry directly contributes ca 30 % of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions
  21. 21. We Must Grow More With Less “Sustainable Intensification” • All commentators agree that food production will have to increase substantially this century. But there are very different views about how this should best be achieved • Sustainable agricultural intensification is defined as ‘producing more output from the same area of land while reducing the negative environmental impacts ‘ • ...both agricultural and environmental outcomes are pre-eminent under sustainable intensification • To deliver sustainable intensification we must get beyond pointless arguments based on entrenched beliefs or narrow debates about individual technologies and must …….. • • • • • Focus on desired outcomes Practical matter not an academic exercise There is no single perfect solution Sustainability is a journey, not the destination Solutions must work locally for individual farmers and communities
  22. 22. The Choices • Expand area of agriculture using virgin land • Increase productivity in exporting countries of the developed world • Use all safe and appropriate, socially responsible and sustainable opportunities to increase food supplies locally and also improve ‘orphan crops’ • Develop a sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture which combines the best of conventional plant breeding with the new biotechnologies including marker assisted breeding and genetic modification DOING NOTHING IS NOT AN OPTION
  23. 23. There are only two ways to increase food production Time Magazine Farm More Land 23 Produce More/Acre In an age of climate change, land-use-conversion is the worst possible thing to do Time Magazine
  24. 24. Slash and Burn Agriculture: in order to export food and animal feed to the developed and developing world Deforestation Soil Erosion
  25. 25. Declining Land Availability 12/02/2014 14:05 25
  26. 26. Major drought-prone regions of the world coincide with those regions with the largest predicted increase in population Changing and unpredictable weather patterns Corn yields in USA decreased by ca 30% in 2012 due to drought
  27. 27. We are running out of land and water!!! Worldwide, more than 70% of food production is dependent on irrigation. Depletion of aquifers (underground water) is occurring at twice there recharge rate,water tables are falling and wells running dry . Salinisation and desertification is a major consequence of irrigation Since the overpumping of aquifers is occurring in many countries (particularily in China and India) more or less simultaneously, the depletion of aquifers and the resulting harvest cutbacks could come at roughly the same time, creating potentially unmanageable food scarcity.
  28. 28. SEPTEMBER 2012 JULY 2012 Recent prolonged high temperatures and drought in the US Corn Belt and changing weather conditions have led to predictions that corn yields could be reduced by between 20 and 30% this year. Significant reductions in yields in Europe and Russia.
  29. 29. The “Perfect Storm” that led to the 2007 food shortages will be with us in the future More people to feed The price of fertiliser is linked to the price of oil and continues to rise Consumption by large, affluent classes in India , China,SEA and South America 40% of US Corn used for Ethanol Source: USDA ERS 29 High Energy Costs Biofuels Drought in Australia,Russian Heatwaves and Fires in 2010 US Drought in 2012
  30. 30. Why Developing/Transition Countries Have Problems with Food? • • • • • • • • • • • Limited Resources Low Agricultural Productivity Climate Change Diminishing Productive Land/water Poverty; Poor Distribution of Food Misguided Priorities by politicians Distribution/storage/transportation Growing Population Low Purchasing Power Civil Strife, War Economic and Environmental Migration
  31. 31. If Future Agriculture is to Support Everyone Adequately on the Planet a combination of Improved and Appropriate Technologies will be Required • Integrated pest management • Reduction of chemical use and energy • Agroecology • Water conservation • No-till practices • Precision agriculture where appropriate • Conserving genetic diversity • Orphan Crops and Specialized (biofuel?) crops • Genetic modification by marker assisted breeding and GM technology where appropriate • GM is not a Silver Bullet!!
  32. 32. Mankind depends on a few crop species for food The application of marker assisted breeding and GM technology has primarily been used to improve food production in the major world crops such as maize and soyabean with rice and wheat following behind. They should now be adapted to improving orphan crops which can address food security and nutrition and provide economic benefits to poor farmers in the developing world-sorghum,cowpea,sweet potato,groundnut,cassava
  33. 33. Conventional Plant Breeding has been very successful but yield gains are now slowing. The new molecular technologies allow more precise and rapid crop improvement by marker assisted selection breeding and GM approaches. This requires the identification of the gene(s) that underlie the traits and then combination with native traits using molecular markers and/or GM to improve the crop But yield gains of some major crops are plateauing and have not benefited from GM Technology Corn
  34. 34. Low crop yields are part of the problem… Corn Yield Trend (Bushel Per Acre) 1990 2000 2005 Global Average 59 70 75 USA 113 137 149 Argentine 60 93 109 China 74 78 80 Brazil 33 47 54 India 23 29 31 Sub-Saharan Africa 22 24 25
  35. 35. Indian Agricultural Research Institute Maize Yields, 1961-2009 China World Average Africa Source: FAO
  36. 36. Average Cereal Yields Agricultural productivity: Africa 10,000 kcal/ha Asia 25,000 kcal/ha Global 20,000 kcal/ha (FAO 2006)
  37. 37. We have to increase PRODUCTIVITY • Increasing productivity provides a livelihood for people, allowing them the opportunity to stay in their communities. This leads to local economic growth, better education, health, political stability and food stability. Implicit with increases in agricultural productivity is the more efficient use and distribution of scarce resources such as fuel and fertiliser. • Critically, today per capita food production in rich countries is twice that of the poor nations. We must increase productivity in these countries to feed the estimated 9 billion people.
  38. 38. Building Increased Productivity and Sustainability into the Seed by Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Genetic modification by marker assisted breeding and GM technology where appropriate: The scientific basis of all crop improvement is identification of the genes that encode and regulate specific phenotypic characteristics or traits of use to the farmer.
  39. 39. How have we fared thus far? Rice genome Sequenced Plant Transformation 1983 1865 Mendel’s Discovery of Genes 1905 Genetics 1953 Structure of DNA 1001 Arabidopsis genomes sequenced 2002 2011 1995 2000 Crop Circles ‘Synteny’ 2010 First Plant NGS Genome Sequence