One billion and Counting!

I follow Mahyco?s social media properties, and recently came across a spate of messages on the growing world population and the challenge of nutrition that it brings along. To read more about this topic, I did a simple Google search and ended up visiting the website of Population Institute. A ticker on the right top corner left me aghast! In just a couple of minutes that I spent on the website reading through a few lines, the world population had increased by 200!

There is no debate that the world population is on the rise, and so is global hunger. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations forecast, that the global population is expected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050, and hence, world food production will have to rise by 70% to ensure their food security, is honestly, quite daunting! So essentially, food production in the developing countries will have to double, to ensure access to food for all.

More importantly, this increase in food production will have to be within certain constraints. For example, right now, we are not considering reduced availability of land due to industrialization, or reduced water resources due to climate change. Hence, one can only imagine the huge task that lies in front of us.

It will come as no shock, that Asia has the highest proportion of population with no access to food. At the same time, Africa has the highest percentage. It is however, encouraging to see that Africa understands the seriousness of the problem, and it is relaxing its restrictions on technology enabled crops, so that there is a fair possibility of enough food being produced to feed the population.

Similarly, reports have also established that empowering women to take-up farming and agriculture can help give access to food, to over 150 million people additionally. Throughout the world, every Government is doing its best to fight hunger. India was also a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals, and hence is also committed to end hunger. Through stringent steps, India has been able to double its food production, but the situation is far from satisfactory. According to the Global Hunger Index [GHI], the country?s GHI though has improved from 32.6 in 1990 to 21.3 in 2013. India ranks 63 out of 78 countries having the worst GHI. The most disappointing fact is that India ranks much below some South Asian countries, viz. Sri Lanka (43), Nepal (49), Pakistan (57) and Bangladesh (58).

There is a need for focussed attention to fight global hunger, before the situation goes out of hand. As responsible citizens of today, we must leave a world for the coming generations, where they are happy and secured; not worried and fighting problems created by us.

Time and again countries have been able to manage the situation through awareness around population explosion and policy interventions to support agriculture. Technology enabled crops and solutions have also played an important role. But only sustained application of all the methods can lead to a noticeable impact.

As I conclude this blogpost, I am reminded of another FAO stat-that the number of hungry people crossed the one billion mark in 2009. It has been 7 years since, and even the thought of how many hungry people there are still living, gives me the shivers!

References: most of the stats have been picked up from reports by FAO and World Health Program; along with some news articles in publications such as The Economic Times.