50 million more hungry people in 2007

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization – FAO, part of the United Nations – the amount of people undernourished rose by approximately 50 million in 2007.

Many factors contributed to such a dramatic increase, like the increasing population and demand, biofuels production (see cartoon on the left) and climate change related phenomena.

As world population increases and as food prices keep on soaring, I doubt this situation will reverse any time soon. This is a most scary prospect.

To the FAO press release :

The number of hungry people increased by about 50 million in 2007 as a result of high food prices, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said today addressing a conference at the European Parliament in Brussels.

“Poor countries are feeling the serious impact of soaring food and energy prices,” Dr Diouf said. “We urgently need new and stronger partnerships to address the growing food security problems in poor countries. No single institution or country will be able to resolve this crisis. Donor countries, international institutions, governments of developing countries, civil society and the private sector have an important role to play in the global fight against hunger.”

Dr Diouf said that the present crisis is a combination of rising demand for agricultural products, due to population growth and economic development in emerging countries; the rapid expansion of biofuels; and insufficient supply as production is negatively affected by climate change, in particular drought and floods, at a time when cereal stocks, at 409 million tonnes, are at their lowest levels in 30 years. These trends are exacerbated by restrictive measures taken by some exporting countries to protect their consumers and the speculation of hedge, index and other funds on the futures markets.

High prices of agricultural inputs are a major obstacle for developing countries to increase agricultural production. From January 2007 to April 2008, fertilizer prices in particular shot up at a much faster rate than food prices.

(…) In order to reduce the number of undernourished in the world and meet growing demands, global food production needs to double by 2050. Production increase must occur mainly in developing countries where the poor and hungry live, and where more than 95 percent of the projected population increase will occur. Their farmers will need access to modern inputs, storage facilities and rural infrastructure.

World agriculture will also have to address major challenges, like water control and climate change. More than 1.2 billion people today live in river basins with absolute water scarcity and the trend of increasing water shortages is worrisome, but sub-Saharan Africa is using only four percent of its renewable water resources. The world is losing 5-10 million hectares of agricultural land every year due to severe degradation, but in Africa, Latin America and Central Asia there is a great potential for expanding land under cultivation.

“Governments and farmers will also have to cope with the burden of climate change on agriculture. If temperatures rise by more than three degrees, yields of major crops like maize may fall by 20-40 percent in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America”, Dr Diouf said. In addition, droughts and floods are likely to intensify and could cause greater crop and livestock losses.

It is said that by 2050, there will be nine billion people living on this planet. With all the above data, I seriously doubt it. If I am not mistaken, there were already 850 million underfed people on this planet. If we added two more billion people on Earth, how could we feed them all ?

Forests can’t be destroyed any more as they provide us with a lot of things like protection against soil erosion, increased climate change etc.

Increasing the use of fertilizers and the likes aren’t a sustainable answer either… I will propose you one of these days an article on population and its impact on climate change. So for this and for much more, stay tuned !

4 thoughts on “50 million more hungry people in 2007”

  1. Interesting to note that the FAO recommends increasing lands under agriculture and food crops. Nowhere in their article do they address the underlying problem which is too many people. If women everywhere had the means to control when they gave birth and to how many children, they wouldn’t have children they couldn’t feed. ~ Daryl

  2. Damn’ right Daryl.

    As I stated on your great article on condoms, the billions of people that are due to born will have a SERIOUS problem to feed themselves.

    The FAO has no prerogatives to say : make less babies, you will have more to eat for yourselves. Even if it the case.

    So, yes, we should empower women in these regions of the globe to control their births and so on.

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