What Does the Future Hold for Global Food Production?
With the world’s population projected to increase by 25% to 9.9 billion by 2050, the future of food production is one of the biggest issues facing mankind. According to statistics in the recent How to Feed the World Report, global demand for food is expected to grow by 70 percent in the next 30 years. The problem is, how do we produce and distribute so much more food in a world where resources are limited, and our current food production systems contribute so much to climate change? As things stand, the way we feed ourselves is unsustainable. That’s why finding alternative strategies to ensure food security and reduce the impact on the planet is a global priority.
How is the UK addressing sustainable food production?
The UK Research and Innovation’s Global Food Security programme is at the forefront of deciding how to invest in future systems. Their remit is to “meet the challenge of providing the world’s growing population with access to safe, affordable and nutritious food, all of the time and in ways the planet can sustain into the future.” As signatories to the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the UK naturally needs to align any future strategies with these global obligations.
In order to find the most sustainable and practical strategies to invest in, the UKRI’s Global Food Security (GFS) programme has explored the pros and cons of four possible scenarios, namely:
- The Carbon-neutral scenario – in this model, low-emission food production is more localised, and technology based. The advantages are that our food supply is better protected from global disasters or pandemics. The downside is that large scale mechanisation may increase unemployment, food prices and the presence of mega farms.
- The Commercial food system – a low carbon, globalised system where the UK’s food supply is mostly import dependant. Here, farmland is replaced with renewable energy farms and forests to help the UK meet climate targets. However, lower food quality, higher prices and supply chain problems are concerns in this scenario.
- The Communal food system – the focus here is on an ethical, sustainable ‘grow local, buy local’ system where seasonal eating and more equal distribution of food excess are central elements. The potential drawbacks are that food prices may increase, and consumer choice may be more limited.
- The Collaborative scenario – this is dependent on global co-operation in terms of what is grown where, in order to improve sustainability, yield and supply chains. As with all the other scenarios, technology plays a large part in enabling more efficient low carbon options. However, as we all know, collaboration between nations is something that can often break down.
Obviously, every system has its drawbacks and there’s no magic bullet to cure the food crisis we face, but in exploring all the possibilities, we can start to make the most practical choices for the future.
What can we do as individuals?
While the global food situation may be largely in the hands of politicians and large corporations, there are things we can do to make our own individual contribution to the collective effort. By growing more of our own food at home, we can all help reduce our carbon footprint and ensure a sustainable supply of healthy, nutritious food for both ourselves and our local communities. When our food goes from garden to fork, we’re:
- reducing the amount of plastic and packaging in use
- making a contribution to reducing food miles
- securing a supply of food for our families
- growing only what we need
- eating fresh, nutritious, good quality food
- able to make our own choices about the way we use and conserve the precious natural resources needed to grow our food
As technology will play a pivotal role in the wider food production of the future, so it will also play a huge part in what we can achieve on a smaller scale. The smart systems that will help large scale food producers grow with maximum efficiency is now available to smaller local growers and home gardeners. With tech that can optimise growing conditions, help lower our carbon footprint and better conserve the planet’s precious resources at our fingertips, we can all make a difference to our immediate future and the generations that follow.
If you’d like to know how investing in a Harvst smart mini greenhouse can help you grow your own sustainable food supply, please get in touch with us.