A surge in the demand of food coupled with rising populations in the developing economies will lead to serious food insecurities for most households in these economies.
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Bearing in mind that food insecurity today is measured by the daily nutrient intake in the recommended daily allowances and by other non-food attributes provided either privately or publicly by the government and by the health status of an individual (Martorell & Ho 1984).
Developing economies are characterized by rain-fed economies where availability of food is dependent on the availability of sufficient rainfall. When natural calamities strike in the form of famine, disease, or floods, the households find themselves risking starvation unless emergency food aid is supplied.
Serious malnutrition, especially in women and children is rampant as the people generally have low purchasing power and cannot be able to buy food adequately during off seasons. This is a perpetual challenge these governments are facing to prevent chronic food insecurity in their countries.
To improve the situation, a long-term approach is necessary coupled with other mitigation factors to create a self-sufficient generation that is well fed.
The Food demand surge will be driven by
Rapid population increase
Despite fertility levels declining, both in the developed world and developing world, the population increase is still significant enough to warrant concern especially in the developing economies.
These economies must produce enough food to keep their populations healthy and it is quite a challenge as they have persistently faced chronic and transient food insecurities manifested in the society by high levels of malnutrition in children and minority groups especially women. Population increase directly influences food production in the following ways
Reduced Agricultural land
Encroachment of prime agricultural land and land that can be irrigated for settlement will lead to less food being produced per household (Ehrlich, Ehrlich, & Daily 1993) and this will lead to straining of the available resources to meet the food requirements per household.
Individuals will be forced to use the existing resources that are even becoming depleted thus reduced productivity. Over cultivation of the reduced and remaining agricultural land will mean that production output will be low leading to less food for the population. Due to the competition for food and the little food available, the food prices will continuously increase becoming unavailable to the poor.
As land units become progressively smaller due to subdivisions, more poor people will become homeless a situation that will increase their vulnerability to food insecurity and diseases. Without land to cultivate or even employment to undertake, most people will be forced to be dependent on the government and their immediate family members. This will strain the government resources as well as those of the general populace.
More people will generate more waste, which in turn will pollute the environment. Pollution will reduce food production significantly rendering the lands unproductive. Pollution will include pesticides and fertilizer residues, which could adversely affect health (Carson 2002).
Environmental pollution has continued to reduce soil fertility in most part of the globe. The continued trend continues to diminish productivity in our lands implying a surge of demand for food especially in the developing economies. Air pollution is also responsible for the continued decline in food production taking into account that most micro organisms are dying from the pollution.
Changing Climatic Conditions
The changing climatic conditions are caused by human activity and are largely irreversible (Solomona, Plattner, Knutti & Friedlingstein 2009). Food production will be reduced significantly, most developing economies are found in the low latitude areas and they are most likely to be affected by floods.
Floods cause wide spread damage to crops in the field and this directly cause food insecurity. Food crops in these regions will significantly reduce their yields causing fewer returns to farmers
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Degradation of Natural Resources and Water Catchments Areas
Due to rapid settlement and industrialization, most natural resources including forests and water catchments areas will be degraded leading to varied changes in the ecosystem. This will change the rainfall patterns and will lead to droughts and famine.
Poor households will be the hardest hit by low production levels of food. The developing economies have continued to cut down trees without replacement. This deforestation has resulted in irregular rain patterns, a thing that has seen crop failures in these developing economies that are largely rain fed.
Health and Nutrition Crisis
In the developing economies, the health sectors are very inefficient, and many diseases afflict the populations. Malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, and chronic diseases are contributing to food insecurity largely because of loss of labour. Capital that otherwise would be invested in agriculture is used for medication and treatment.
The health crisis will impoverish millions of household and will lead to shortages of productive workers due to death. Ailing individuals are reduced into dependants and thus increasing the dependency level in these nations, a thing that will continue straining the available resources.
Poor Infrastructure and Lack of Markets
In developing countries, almost 70% of the populace lives in the rural areas and they are involved in farming as a way of livelihood. Lack of good roads, trade institutions and markets often lead to wastages during surplus harvests. This lead to financial losses on capital invested and loss of economic opportunities.
Due to lack of good roads and markets, the food can not be distributed properly and even during droughts these areas will always be isolated leading to insufficient food for these households. Bad access roads increase the cost of doing business (Ellis 2000).
Wars and Conflict
Violent conflicts lead to widespread displacement and many deaths causing untold misery and abuse to the population (Cairns 1997). During this conflict, sustainable food production cannot take place and food is used as a weapon for the combatants and civilians (Messer 1998). Humanitarian assistance is usually necessary to provide shelter, food, and water for the affected people but is also distributed unfairly (Duffield 1994).
Wars are common especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and these regions become sorely dependent on humanitarian aid. They plunge millions of people into poverty and it will take years for the regions to regain enough stability to enable sustainable food production (Cliffe 1994).
The war has seen people being forcibly displaced from their homes. The internally displaced persons are forced to rely on the government in order to acquire the basic needs. Conflicts among various ethnic communities thus become a great undoing as far as food production is concerned.
In the year 2020, many people will have immigrated to urban centres in search of gainful employment. Because of the excess labour, wages will be very low, and majority of these urban dwellers will be facing food insecurity. They will strain the capabilities of their governments to provide food, jobs, education, and health care.
Dependence on imports to meet the demand for food will expose the countries to varying international prices, which will lead to food insecurity because if prices spike the poor will not be able to access them (Philippine Group & Regalado 2000)
Increased Food Demand Can Be Met by
Research and Technological changes
The land available will continue to get smaller and smaller and new farming technologies will be required to produce sufficient food. Research in food biotechnology to increase the yields, resistance to pests and diseases, and the nutritional composition of food crops will be necessary to stem the food crisis in these regions (Premanandh 2011).
The respective governments will have to fund the researches to avoid exploitation by private researchers. The governments will also be required to disseminate the new knowledge to the farmers so that they can adapt the new technologies.
Capacity Building and Human Resource Improvement
To get a healthy society, resource persons are required to come up with ways to train farmers, fight malnutrition, and opportunistic diseases that make people loose a lot of man-hours in developing countries.
These resource people should be availed skills to increase the capacity of the people to sustain themselves using the technologies available.
Food scientists should fortify the readily available food to fight macro and micro deficiencies and reduce incidences of malnutrition. Diversification of the traditional diets is essential in fighting hunger and malnutrition and stemming the price increase in staple foods.
The governments in these regions must provide education and good health care systems to promote the economy. With a good economy, reduced levels of poverty will improve the food situations in these regions.
Efficient Natural Resource Management
Because of poverty and lack of enough knowledge, farmers in developing countries especially in rural areas have little motivation for sound environment management policies and will continually move deeper into forests in search of fertile soils, and other resources like firewood.
This will lead to land degradation in a scale that is irreversible, and unless checked will lead to more and more problems for these countries (Johnson & Lewis 2007). The governments must come up with sound management policies to safeguard their natural environments. without efficient policies, these countries will be faced with acute water shortages due to depleted forest cover and industrialization.
Organic fertilizer use should be encouraged where soil fertility levels are low and fertilizer prices are prohibitive to enable food production maximization. Sound environmental practices will reduce the effects of global warming such as rising temperatures, increased carbon dioxide concentration, and changing rainfall patterns. They should be encouraged to plant trees, avoid cutting down trees and burning vegetation.
Good Leadership and Governance
Without good leaders, the problems the citizens are facing shall continue to be there endlessly and hence these leaders must have the will to support their citizens achieve food security. The leaders must be transparent, accountable, and corrupt free.
The governments should work closely with non governmental organisations and the private sector to come up with ways to support their citizens. With corruption being rampant in developing countries, most donors shy away from assisting communities that need help.
Good National, Economic and Trade Polices
To reduce rural to urban migration the developing countries governments must provide attractive remuneration for agricultural based products. They must come up with policies to reduce the capital required to invest in agriculture to make it more paying. This will stimulate agricultural production with an overall reduction in food prices.
The government should provide extension services in rural small holder units to increase production over time (Chirwa & Kydd 2005). By participating in the world trade negotiations, they should ensure that conditions that harm the poor economies like subsidies, and controlled markets are not allowed.
This would make agricultural production a competitive enterprise around the world and this would lead to more food production and food for all.
We should not be spurred by documentaries and pictures of poverty stricken and hungry people to act during natural calamities (Nichols 2001). It is the collective responsibility of developing nations, developed nations, the private sector, and non governmental organisations to act and help hunger afflicted people through various interventions at their disposal (Carter 2001).
Developing nation’s governments bear the greatest responsibilities for creating conditions necessary for efficient production of food.
However, they should form partnerships with non governmental organisations and the private sector to support and assist their citizens with the capital, resources, and technology necessary to produce food profitably. Key drivers of the economy like education and the health system should be prioritized to empower their populations.
Developed nations should lend a helping hand to the developing nations in terms of capital and technology. Restrictive labour laws that hinder movement of agricultural products should be abolished to allow free trade that would lead to fair distribution of food to all.
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