The Challenge of Feeding the World

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Posted on 12/11/2013

One of the most urgent problems facing the planet is overpopulation. As the number of people living on Earth is expected to reach 8 billion by 2025, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, a number of current problems are predicted to become more serious, including the availability of agricultural land. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2050, approximately 70 percent of the world's population will live in cities. This will lead to more overcrowded slums in developing nations, the spread of disease and potential food and water shortages for people living in poverty, unless we work to improve conditions.

Running Out of Space

In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, Steven Porder, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, wrote that the world's agricultural land equals the landmass of South America. Although this may seem like a large amount of farmland, the world will require approximately 70 percent more food by 2050 if population growth estimates are accurate, Porder claims. Farmland must be used more efficiently, or existing agricultural production must produce higher crop yields to provide sufficient food for the planet's needs, he adds. Other researchers say that the earth has enough land to support the growing population, but poor infrastructure is hampering developing countries from providing families with the resources they need.

However, the availability of agricultural land is not the sole obstacle challenge facing the world's food supply. In a separate report, The New York Times highlighted key facts from a recent study published by the International Panel on Climate Change, which states that fluctuations in global temperatures could negatively impact food production. The report suggests that if current climate change patterns continue, the world's agricultural production could be reduced by 2 percent every decade for the rest of this century, adding further urgency to the need to ensure sustainable farming practices around the world.

Innovative Solutions

The lack of available farmland is becoming a serious problem in many developing nations, driven largely by gradual urbanization. However, some families are tackling the problem in new and innovative ways, such as urban farming.

ChildFund works in several of Africa's poorest countries to establish secure sources of food for local families, such as giving them the tools and training to raise livestock and grow vegetables. In Uganda, many people have adopted urban farming as a way to grow nutritious produce in limited space, providing a source of nutrition for their children and sometimes increase their household income.

To help a family in need, please consider making a donation to our Gifts of Love & Hope catalog. A gift of $74 will provide a family with seeds to grow their own vegetables, which could make a lasting difference in the lives of families living in poverty.