Global threat to food security

Global threat to food security

Trend commentator Arzu Naghiyev

Despite the increase in production volumes, more than one billion people in the world are starving or being malnourished. This means that every sixth person is deprived of adequate nutrition and a healthy, active lifestyle. Hunger and poor nutrition are an even greater threat and risk factor than such diseases as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS.

Azerbaijan exerts many efforts to ensure food security. This issue is a priority for the country. Along with the development of domestic production, the country is taking measures to be fully provided with products imported into the country. In particular, the Azerbaijani government has exempted grain, meslin (wheat and rye mixture) and flour from VAT.

According to the statistics, Azerbaijan produced 251,800 tons of meat in live weight, 1.008.2 million tons of milk, 699.9 million eggs and 14,800 tons of wool over the last seven months of this year. The production of meat increased by 3.5 per cent, milk - by 7.1 per cent, eggs - by 18.5 per cent and wool - by 1.5 per cent compared to the corresponding period of last year. Moreover, around 521,100 tons of potatoes, 713,500 tons of vegetables, 295,300 tons of water melons and melons, 162,700 tons of fruits and berries, 637 tons of grapes, etc., were gathered. Grain and legume productivity increased.

Natural disasters, conflicts, wars, poverty, lagging development of agricultural infrastructure, excessive use of natural resources can be referred to as the main causes of hunger in the world. The on-going financial and economic crisis in the world is also the factor contributing to hunger. Along with obvious hunger, there is also hidden hunger. Lack of food rich in essential vitamins weakens the immune system creating the conditions for catching infectious diseases, preventing their physical and mental development, reducing efficiency and increasing the risk of premature death.

The hunger factor affects the entire developing world. According to economists, every child starving and suffering from malnutrition due to poor mental and physical development earns five to 10 per cent less and later achieves the desired result than those who do not feel this.

One of the UN main objectives in the 21st Century is to reduce the number of hungry people in the world by a half. Significant success was achieved in this area in 1980-1990, but a gradual increase in chronic hunger has been observed over the last decade.

The population is expected to be increased by two billion people over the next 40 years which of course will lead to a greater need for food. Sown areas are not enough to provide nine billion people with food. This should be increased. However, by 2050, food production must increase by 70 per cent, but land resources and in particular water, are insufficient for this plan. Around 60 per cent of the population will feel the lack of irrigation water. Food production and other sectors such as energy production will face serious competition over water.

According to research, the countries depending on food imports, including Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East, may suffer most of all.

In 2008, food shortages led to the people's discontent in 28 world countries. Based on scientific principles, one can say that the drought in the U.S and Russia, the increase in wheat prices on the world markets and other disturbing facts related to the food crisis, will be more obvious during the next five years.

What is the solution? It is necessary to make radical changes in the Azerbaijani and the world food systems. One third of the land cultivated in the world, is being used to grow animal feed. This means that it is necessary to use water five to10 times more in cattle breeding than in agriculture. It is necessary to reduce the use of meat products several times over to save water.

Around 20 per cent of 3000 calories consumed by each person did on average, fall to animal products. If this figure is reduced by only five per cent, irrespective of the region, one can save 35-45 per cent of water. If one consumes 2200 instead of 3000 calories, the water economy will decrease three to five fold.

One can conclude that the suppression of the dual use or unusable agricultural products, changes in the nutrition and the implementation of these measures mean preventing hunger and food security.

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