Three years ago, the number of people who did not have enough food to eat was around 820 million. The pandemic may have increased this figure significantly. Even if the world’s food supply is suitable to feed everyone, several issues prevented this from happening. These issues range from the improper use of fertilizer to food wastage.
With this, policymakers need to make the necessary changes to ensure food reaches the people who need it. This is particularly true as the world continues to combat the coronavirus that has ravaged every country on the planet.
Here are some things that policymakers can work on to gradually end world hunger.
Reduce the Yield Gap
The world has a considerable amount of land that can be converted to farming. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 120 million hectares of arable land will be added by 2050. Even with a good amount of land remains uncultivated due to ecological significance, the amount of arable land is sufficient to feed the hungry.
But a good part of the agricultural land around the world has yet to reach its potential. Some are even yielding only half of what they can produce. To close the yield gap, policymakers should ensure agricultural lands are maximized. Maximizing agricultural lands can also reduce the need to convert land and help preserve the environment. Once policymakers have made the necessary adjustments, they can focus on feeding the hungry around the world.
Efficient Use Fertilizers
Many farmers use chemical fertilizers to allow crops to grow properly and increase yield. But the plants cannot fully utilize the phosphorus and nitrogen that come from some fertilizers. The unused phosphorus and nitrogen will end up affecting the quality of air and water in the area if they get washed up by rain. Due to this, farmers need to reduce instances of nutrient losses. They can do this by adopting management techniques to apply the right amount of nutrients to their crops.
The ground becomes susceptible to erosion when it has nothing on them. To avoid this, the farmers can also plant cover crops to ensure the ground is always covered even after they harvest their crops. Practice conservation drainage techniques to reduce nutrient loads in the water while maintaining proper drainage for agricultural production. Additionally, the farmers can also have plant field buffers to stop excess nutrients from reaching bodies of water close to the farmland. These buffers can include grass, shrubs, and trees.
Reduce Food Waste
The amount of food wasted in the United States each year is around 30 percent of what the country produces. The losses include around 15 to 35 percent at the farm level and around 26 percent at the retail sector level. These losses cost around $100 billion annually.
Since the environment is among the main culprits in food losses at the farm level, it is not easy to reduce this. Policymakers can implement mitigating efforts to reduce these losses. But in the retail sector, food suppliers and manufacturers can work on ensuring the food items they offer in the market are properly prepared to prevent wastage. To prevent contamination during the preparation and packaging process, these companies can use oil-free air compressors.
Using these types of equipment prevents contaminants that can cause food spoilage. It can also ensure the proper and secure packaging of these food items.
Increase Production of Drought-resistant Crops
Irrigation is among the issues farmers face when it comes to food production. The lack or improper use of water resources only exacerbates the situation. Since the issue is challenging to resolve, policymakers can focus instead on increasing the production of plants that require less water. These crops include melons, tomatoes, lima beans, and cowpeas. These types of crops allow farmers to grow them even when a drought occurs in their area.
But it is also important to take into account the needs of people in the area. For instance, some areas in the world have rice as their staple. In these instances, policymakers should take this into account so that whatever changes they implement will not affect the people’s diet.
These situations can also become an opportunity for policymakers to educate people about proper nutrition. For instance, they can promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables that are good for the health.
Hunger is an issue that has plagued the world for decades. While the solutions may be within reach, policymakers must work with the people on the ground to finally solve this decades-long problem. It’s a problem that won’t be easy to solve, but if necessary measures are taken, it can be addressed.