Food for thought

A happy picture painted by a recent FAO report gives way to grim realities about global food situation

Published: Wednesday 15 November 1995

EARTH still has a treasure cove of unexplored arable land which may help the world feed its spiraling population, ssy a report World Agriculture. Towards 2010, by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). "Expansion a agriculture into new land ... may bring under cultivation an additional le million hectares," is the happy message that the study conveys. It identifies close to 1.8 billion ha of uncultivated land - mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Lay America - having a potential for tainted agriculture.

The FAO study foresees increase the developing world's supplies from the present 2,470 calories per head Per day, to 2,730 calories. And the percentage age of chronically undernourished peo pie would drop from 20 per cent to just over I I per cent, it assures.

But then, this positive condition with materialise if only decisiv steps are taken to check the galloping population rate, says the report. And, although much of the increase in both Produrnm and consumption will occur in re developing world, this will be insu cient to cope with the chronic undernutrition confronting region. Besides, even in AD 2011 poverty will continue to haunt the developing world. Twelve per cent South Asia's population, and nearly a third of sub-Saharan Africans will now be able to afford food.

By AD 2030, the world's population is expected to rise from the present 5.5 billion to a chilling 9 billion And this will intensify pressure on arable lands and limited nature resources. "If action is not taken to reverse present trends, the number of chronically undernourished people in Sub-Saharan Africa may react 300 million, nearly one-half of the total for developing countries," is the grim verdict passed by the study.

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