what is food shortage?
Food shortage is similar to water shortage, it is when the supply does not meet the demands. This is mostly due to a big and growing population, where there is not enough food evenly distributed for everyone. This can be due to economic factors, and when the production of food is not enough to meet the demands of the people. Producing food for most of the parts also needs a lot of water especially for the crops.
What about meat and other foods that are produced by animals? These foods are even more water-intensive than crops. It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce just 1 pound of meat. This is due to having to grow grains to feed the animals and that uses water as well. Thus, food production relies heavily on the water as well. If there is also a water shortage, food production will also be affected.
Causes of food shortage
environmental factors have contributed greatly to food shortage. Climate change has contributed greatly to food production. Climate change is majorly caused by human activities and to some extent, natural activities. More greenhouse gases are being emitted which is breaking the ozone layer. Deforestation of forests is due to human pressure which has changed climatic patterns and rainfall seasons. Pollution comes in various forms; these forms include air pollution, water pollution, and soil pollution. deforestation of agricultural lands has reduced the size and fertility of agriculture lands due to soil erosion.
As we can see, most of the environmental factors contribute to food shortage.Water pollution, air pollution, and land pollution all are factors which affect food shortage.
Economic factors affect the ability of farmers to engage in agricultural production. Poverty situations in many countries have reduced their capacity to produce food. They use poor farming methods that cannot yield enough, not even for substantial use. The rising cost of rice and other commodities has made it impossible for farmers to afford it even in where they live. Thus, poverty has made farmers continue to use outdated farming practices, low yielding seeds and poor agriculture infrastructure which lowers their yield and production capacity even more. The global financial crisis have led to a further increase in food prices.
3.Food wastage/ Affluence
Affluence is the state of having a great deal of money: wealth. How does affluence lead to food shortage you may ask? When people have more money and are able to splurge more on luxuries and more expensive things, this may lead them to consume more expensive food/ bigger amounts of food. Consuming costly food will lead to food wastage if the consumers do not finish the food.
Poor infrastructure is when there are no basic structures that are essential in a country, for example, roads, working taps and toliets, lights, and structures that are necessary for the development of a nation in all aspects. Poor infrastructure makes it difficult for people to get water and food, due to there being too much food in one region and no food in another region.
Crops need water to grow. Irrigation infrastructure is unaffordable to most farmers in developing countries. A lack of water and sanitation infrastructure are leading causes of hunger and malnutrition.
How can we prevent food shortages/solve this issue?
1.Increase farm efficiency/crop yield
As much as a third of the world food produced globally is wasted, if just half of that waste is reduced, and evenly distributed among those who are going hungry-could be fed.
This is why sometimes it is better to start off with the basics. The majority of the world farmers are uneducated and have basic knowledge about farming, which is why they rely on inefficient farming methods passed down from the generations.
The Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture has been experimenting with crop yields for years. They have taken simple initiatives to introduce simple, low tech yet efficient methods of farming which will yield more crops. Thus by investing in training and educational programs in modern farming techniques, farms can be efficiently increased with minimal investment without the need to turn to more controversial techniques that can damage the local (and global) ecosystem. By fixing productivity issues locally, distribution also becomes far less of a challenge – as local farmers can then supply their local communities, while also helping boost their local economies.
2.Reduce food wastage
Although food is also lost throughout the supply chain, it is estimated the greatest losses are at the consumer’s level. A large amount of food produced is thrown away or has gone bad or spoilt. A large amount of food is also thrown away for not meeting retail cosmetic standards, such as if fruits and vegetables are imperfect or look ugly, they will not be sold as they are seen as spoilt. However, just if the food looks bad, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is spoilt.
Therefore, to reduce food wastage, many people and organizations are taking initiatives to reduce food wastage such as starting programs to turn food scraps not used for consumption into compost.there are also programs to educate the public more about food wastage.
3. Support better land management
Already 500 million people live in areas where fertile land has become a desert because of climate, deforestation, or due to inappropriate agriculture. When land is diminished, it’s bad for people and our environment. It becomes less productive, and also yields fewer crops and harvests, limits what we can grow makes us more susceptible to climate shocks (such as droughts, dust storms, heatwaves, floods) and can become dangerous (landslides, for example). It also reduces the amount of carbon that can be captured by soil, which worsens climate change. In turn, climate change degrades land further.
one of the options is to plant a variety of crops instead of further degrading soil by just planting one. a variety of crops planted also means that not all the crops will die out when there is a certain disease, disaster, extreme weather conditions as some crops might not be as heavily affected as other crops as they might have certain adapatations to adapt to these changes, and thus not all of them will be destroyed when a certain change comes.
4. Return to traditional methods
With so many new complex technologies and new modern methods of yielding more harvest with technology, and with so many people trying to find ways of agriculture that yield more harvest, maybe it is better to start off with the basics. The desire for sustainable agricultural solutions is also helping drive the increase in organic agriculture over recent decades. By avoiding artificial fertilizers and pesticides, organic farming advocates say, it can be much better for the environment. As organic food continues to increase in popularity in developed world markets, it can also make good business sense a study showed that organic produce was as much as 35 percent more profitable than conventional farming, despite typically requiring more labor, which also means more jobs.
The essential difference between organic and conventional farming is that conventional farming relies on chemical intervention to fight pests and weeds and provide plant nutrition. Organic farming relies on natural principles like biodiversity and composting instead to produce healthy, abundant food. However, even though it may seem to many that conventional farming is a faster way and more effective method to yield more harvest, it harms the environment and other animals. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. Farming without pesticides is also more suitable for nearby birds and animals as well as people who live close to farms.
Organic is not simply a return to the old days before artificial fertilizers and pesticides, however. Recent improvements in organic techniques have also shown that it boosted organic farming’s productivity by as much as 36 percent over the last 30 years. But the picture isn’t entirely positive – a 2014 study found that organic yields are still on average 19.2 percent lower than industrial agriculture.
(As seen from the graph here, it is shown that organic wheat uses more land, but it has fewer gas emissions from cultivation and also yields more. )
Even this doesn’t give the full picture, however – certain crops, such as leguminous vegetables, see similar yields from organic as from conventional techniques. The key is to pick the right method of farming for the right crop, livestock, and local geological and climate conditions, and the outcome of organic farming might even be the same as industrial agriculture.
With organic agriculture often labour-intensive, highly profitable and requiring little investment in fertilizers, it could yet prove a promising solution to the developing world’s twin challenges of improving farming efficiency and maintaining rural employment.
Bonus: how is COVID-19 affecting food supply and food shortage?
In spite of COVID-19, essential items and food are now are even in higher demand as countries go into lockdown and the economy crashes. More and more people lose their jobs and businesses fail. National lockdowns and circuit breaker measures have forced many businesses and shops to close down. Due to social distancing and less physical interaction, many sectors and industries were suspended.
This hunger crisis, experts say, is global and it is caused by a multitude of factors linked to the coronavirus pandemic: the sudden loss in income for countless millions who were already living hand-to-mouth; the collapse in oil prices; widespread shortages of hard currency from tourism drying up; overseas workers not having earnings to send home; and ongoing problems like climate change, violence, population dislocations and humanitarian disasters.
There is no shortage of food globally, or mass starvation from the outbreak-yet- however, logistical problems in planting, harvesting, and transporting food will leave poor countries exposed in the coming months, especially those reliant on imports.
Increasing unemployment and the loss of income associated with lockdowns are also putting food out of reach for many struggling people. Though global markets have remained steady, the price of basic foods has begun to rise in some countries.
Lockdowns are slowing harvests, while millions of seasonal labourers are unable to work. Food waste has reached damaging levels, with farmers forced to dump perishable produce as the result of supply chain problems, and in the meat industry plants have been forced to close in some countries.
To assuage the impact of this crisis, some governments are fixing prices on food items, delivering free food and putting in place plans to send money transfers to the poorest households.
Yet communities across the world are also taking matters into their own hands. Some are raising money through crowdfunding platforms, while others have begun programs to buy meals for needy families.
However, this will only make a drop in the ocean, as millions have lost their source of income due to the pandemic, and the only way to obtain sufficient food for themselves is with a source of income. The food supply has also been disruputed greatly, and this will worsen the situation.Even after the pandemic, it will take a while for many to find a new source of income to support themselves, and the future will be uncertain.