.The major challenges confront the agriculture and rural environment are providing for the nutritional needs of a growing human population


By Dr. S.M. ALAM
Oct 27 - Nov 02, 2003 



The most important problem is how to get on top of the population food variable. The population is increasing relentlessly while food production began to taper off from 1985 onward. The first and continuing challenge facing world agriculture is to produce enough food to feed a growing population which is expected to reach 8 billion people by 2025 or 2030 and possibly 10 billion people by 2050. Nearly, all of the increase of 2 billion people in the next 25 years will be in developing countries. Urban population in those countries will double from 2 billion to 4 billion in the same period. The second challenge for agriculture is to be an engine of growth and poverty reduction. Although, there is an abundance of food in the industrialized world, hunger continues to occur here and around the globe. Today, some 70 per cent of the poor are still rural dwellers and the majority draw some or all of their incomes from agricultural activities. We must develop technologies, policies and institutions to unleash agriculture's full potential as an engine of growth. This will require farmers to have access to both domestic and between international markets.

The third challenge for agriculture is to create a set of technologies, incentives, and policies which encourage small farmers to pay attention to the long-run stewardship of the natural resources, they manage. It has been estimated that agriculture uses more than 70 per cent of the world's fresh water and much bio-diversity is contained in agricultural system. Agricultural activities influence the boundaries of forests and deserts.

Presently, the major challenges confront the agriculture and rural environment are providing for the nutritional needs of a growing human population and sustaining natural resources for food production. Expanding the land area used for cultivation and ultimately for food production accelerates the loss of both animal and plant species, which in turn, diminishes the genetic diversity available to increase food production for the burgeoning population. It has been reported that over the last two centuries, nearly every continent on earth has experienced a colossal loss of animal, birds and plant species due to massive human intrusions. These losses are very much accelerating. Beyond the issue of providing adequate food are concerns that continued destruction of tropical forests and species that survive only in these environments will contribute to undesirable climatic changes, further complicating agricultural production and biodiversity.



Great extinction of tropical and other species reduces the world's genetic pool, including potential resources for greater food production and new medicines to improve animal and human health. Therefore, the large growth in human populations during the 20th century (5990 billions) and projected growth rates for the 21st century (6082 billions), for 2025 (8379 billions), for 2025 (10,674 billions) and for 2100 (16,178 billions) will impact the food and environmental debate in a variety of ways: There is an averincreasing need for a diverse and wholesome food supply to assure worldwide food security. At the same time, use of land and natural resources is expanding in a manner that contaminates resources need for food production such as soil, air and water. In the world, the ecosystems are being overused and destroyed to the point that they no longer sustain many plant and animal species. The effects of population growth, globalization and urbanization upon human, animal and environmental health and are increasingly recognized by research workers all over the world.

Through technical innovations, we have greatly expanded agricultural production during the past century to meet food needs. However, during 2000, hunger remains a serious problem for approximately 800 million people worldwide, due in part to limitations in food distribution to areas of great need on the earth. On the other side, hunger can also be a result of political corruption, poor land policies and conservation practices, internal and regional wars/conflicts, lack of transportation, absence of education systems and technological expertise and deplete or inadequate soil and/or water to support agriculture. Due to urbanization, some nations are losing the expertise to produce food in rural areas.

In other nations, urban sprawl is resulting in the loss of valuable and water resources needed for food production. Some opinion that worldwide economic growth and technological innovations, such as agricultural biotechnology will ensure future food security, along with an associated decrease in the rate of population growth. This view is opposes by others who argue that new technology is not yet certain and emerging technologies may be harmful to the animal and plant biosphere. Competition for resources and views as how they are used locally and globally are the centre for the debuted surrounding agriculture and food systems for the future.



Many complex and rapid changes have occurred in rural environments worldwide over the past two centuries. To appreciate the challenges confronting rural communities, it is important to comprehenced these changes and their potential crippling effects on future food supplies.

Until, 19th century, nearly everyone was greatly involved in food production or food gathering and the distinction between rural and urban life were totally negligible. Generally, the urban and rural residents completely shared an understanding of, and often an active interest in, the production and acquisition of food. In many developed countries during the last two centuries, technological innovations have enabled a small subset of the population on increased with a concurrent decrease in rural residents engaged in agriculture. A majority of the urban population in most countries lacks a detailed understanding of food systems and rural issues, most people have become completely detached from the production of their food.

It is not enough to produce large quantities of food. With the global marketing of food, it is important to produce wholesome and nutritional food, in sufficient amounts to need the world's needs. Also the food must be safe and not cause illness. The quality and safety of food requires taking appropriate management and hygienic steps on the farm. It is realized that systematic analysis of inputs and outputs in the farm environment can aid in defining critical points that affect food safety and quality. Almost everywhere, there is inadequate capital to institute major changes in production practices on farms or in local agricultural communities and there are no clear financial incentives and for local farmers to improve practices for the long term. People in rural areas depend on their own production for more than 60 per cent of their food supply, as opposed to less than 10 per cent for people in urban areas. Every time one person moves from a rural to the urban setting needed market supplies must double. It has been observed that people living in rural areas are now frequently engaged in occupations unrelated to agriculture. They move to such areas to retire, raise families, develop home business and escape the periods of city life. In rural area worldwide, non-agricultural development is occurring rapidly. Urban sprawl extends to transportation corridors, parking lots, air and train traits, water transport systems, parks and recreation areas, greenbelts, industrial parks, electric power distribution systems, waste management facilities, educational campuses public facilities, religious facilities and housing developments.