The issue of world starvation is real in this millennium. So many people are facing starvation. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) puts the figure to about one billion of the people facing starvation in 2010. The statistics for hunger are troubling with about 18, 000 children dying everyday of hunger related issues (FAO 1).
In 2005, about 1.4 billion people were in extreme poverty. The World Bank estimated that food prices would shoot up in 2008 and following the recent global down turn the prices have escalated pushing more people into poverty and thus hunger. The challenge of hunger or food insecurity is enormous in areas within low incomes areas. Finding a solution to world starvation is not an easy one because the number of undernourished people is very high. Scientists and policy makers have been working in the area of food technology to help overcome with the problem of world hunger. In 2010, the number of undernourished people declined due to a slight improved economy especially in the developing nations.
Moreover, food prices have fallen from the high prices experienced in 2008. FAO puts the undernourished at 925 million this year compared to 1.023 billion in 2009 as shown in figure below.
Source: FAO Most of the gains were made in Asia where there were 80 million less hungry. In sub-Saharan Africa the number reduced by 12 million. Nonetheless, the number of the hungry is still very high due to the current world economic situation, poverty, famine and conflict and a solution is needed to improve food security in the world and more so in areas with chronic food crises.
Developments in food technology have enabled many people to access food. The life span of human beings has also increased in many parts of the world because the people have food that has improved their life quality. The developing nations have not been left behind and life span has risen in the recent decades.
The advancement made in food technology has helped to feed the high world population due to high grain production. Scientists working in the food and technology field have come up with various ways of increasing food production. New ways of feeding the world population have been developed such as genetic engineering and biotechnology (Prakash and Conko 1). These methods are aimed at improving food security.
Genetically modified foods
Genetically modified foods have been introduced in a bid to curb world starvation. Through genetic modification, foods and animals are modified through the manipulation of genes to yields the best possible yields according to the needs of human beings. Moreover, crops can be modified to make them more resistant to pests and thus protect them to ensure good yields.
Agricultural technologies in developed countries
Farmers in the countries that have embraced food technology and in particular genetically modified foods are now able to produce double of the grains they were producing in the same size of land.
The genetically modified foods ensure good produce and mature faster than the conventional crops. Countries especially the developed ones have embraced genetically modified crops and for example in the United Kingdom genetically modified crops such as soya, maize, tomatoes and cheese have been approved (Jones 1). The United States has approved a wheat has also embraced genetically engineered food and currently the debate on the approval of genetically modified salmon is ongoing. However, not everyone has embraced genetically modified foods due to healthy and safety concerns. Some people have fears about the safety of genetically modified foods because some are said to be harmful. Thus, people have to be educated about the use of genetically modified foods to array the fears they have and to use them to supply their nutritional needs. Scientists have across the globe “have attested to the health and environmental safety of agricultural biotechnology” and they call for its use especially by countries that have major hunger problems (Prakash and Conko 1).
Many health and scientific organizations have endorsed biotechnology for example, the American Medical Association and the United Kingdom Royal Society.
Agriculture technologies in Africa
Agricultural technologies have helped to improve food security for many countries. Thus, efforts are being made to encourage African countries embrace agricultural technologies.
There is need for African nations to embrace food technology because most of the poor people live in rural areas in the developing countries. Africa cannot afford to ignore agricultural technologies to improve its food production to feed its high population. The continent is a major importer of grains and its grain production has remained at the same level for over four decades (McPherson 5). The African leaders have taken a step towards reversing this trend. The first step they have taken is to pledge to increase the budget allocated to agriculture. The increased budget will help the farmers in the rural area produce adequate food for their consumption.
The money allocated in the budget will go a long way in aid research to come up with food varieties that are suitable for the African climate.
Use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers
Fertilizer and pesticide use is crucial in agriculture. The cost of fertilizer is high and many African governments have taken a step in making fertilizers available to the farmers through subsidies. Other steps have been by working in conjunction with banks to provide farmers with loans to secure fertilizers for instance the Equity Bank in Kenya. Malawi is a success story in adapting food technologies to improve its food production, which has made it a breadbasket for South African region. The government gave farmers subsidy in buying fertilizers and many farmers attributed the 2007 bumper harvest to government’s effort (Dugger 2).
Green revolution in the Caribbean and Latin America
The green revolution in Latin American and Caribbean has led to increased food production. These two regions have been able to provide food for their population even though about 55% live in the rural area in poverty in a region that is richly endowed with natural resources (Izquierdo and De la Riva 1).
The region has failed to produce adequate food to feed its population due to desertification, floods, soil erosion among other factors. Therefore, it is important for the region to embrace food technologies that will help the region to feed its population. The region has applied agricultural technologies more vigorously because earlier on only a few applications food technologies were utilized.
The region has realized that it cannot continue to depend on the success of the green revolution to provide food because the method cannot bring in the success required to feed the whole region. Biotechnology methods must be adapted to reduce the dependence on imports for the provision of basic grain needs for the population. In this regard, FAO has come up with a program called the Special Program for Food Security (SPFS) to assist countries to increase their food productivity.
The program will help the region to improve and develop their biotechnology because in the past the kind of agricultural technologies applied have not been successful because they failed to address the unique needs of the region (Izquierdo and De la Riva 1).
Food technology is important if the world is to overcome the current starvation problem. The technology will help to solve the problem of crop pest infestation and increase crop yields. The methods applied in biotechnology will help to come up with crops that can withstand the current environmental conditions such as drought resistant crops. So far, many people have benefited from genetically modified crops grown across sixteen nations in the world. Many farmers in the developed countries have benefited from the agricultural technologies in the less developed countries.
The adaption of food technology in the developing countries shows that these technologies can be transferred and used in countries that are less industrialized just like in the developed countries (Prakash and Conko 1). Using agricultural technologies will enable the countries in many parts of the world to gain food security. A world with adequate food will give the people an opportunity to live full quality lives and improve their economic status. As long as people have adequate food supply they will be in a position to produce grains to ensure that, all year round they have food because hungry people cannot be in a position to produce food. Having adequate food to feed the undernourished and the people facing starvation will help to reduce the number of deaths that occur daily while a few millions are overfed.
Dugger, Celia. ”Ending famine, simply by ignoring farmers. New York Times, 2 Dec. 2007.
Food and Agriculture Organization. Addressing food insecurity in protracted crises. fao.org. 2010. web 24 Nov. 2010.
Izquierdo, Juan and De la Riva, Gustavo. “Plant biotechnology and food security in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Journal of Biotechnology 3.1 (2000): 1-2. Jones, Leighton.
“Genetically modified foods.” British Medical Journal 318. 3 (1999): 581- 584. McPherson, Peter. The global food crisis: causes and solutions.
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Web. 24 Nov. 2010. Prakash, Sikh and Gregory Conko. “Saving billions with Technology.” Journal of Technology, 3.1 (2007): 1-6.