Small farms are the key to global food security in the 21st century, the UN has announced. This information was included in UN’s recent food and agriculture report/book, Save and Grow, which I wrote about in June. But the UN has made it an even more front-and-center issue by announcing today (with the release of the UN’s annual World Economic and Social Survey) that governments need to help shift our agricultural focus to small-scale farming on order to avoid massive food security issues.
Intensive Agriculture Threatening Future Food Supply
Currently, the world relies heavily on large-scale intensive farming practices. But these agricultural practices are threatening the environment and agricultural sustainability, and with a growing global population they are completely inadequate.
A much more effective and sustainable approach is to help small farmers in more diverse locations succeed using ecological farming practices.
“The main challenge is to improve incentives so that they promote and lead to the development of sustainable agriculture by small farm holders,” said the survey, which is actually a product of economists in the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
World Population Growing, Food Needs Growing, Current Policies Leading Us in Wrong Direction
The world population is expected to grow 35% by 2050 and food production needs to grow 70-100% in that same time period to satisfy the world’s food needs.
The policies needed, as noted above, are completely different from policies in place today.
“Evidence has shown that for most crops the optimal farm is small in scale and that it is at this level that most gain in terms of both sustainable productivity increases and rural poverty reduction can be achieved.”
However, larger farms currently have more access to government grants and credits, and larger farms have more resources and can push smaller farms out of the market.
Quality needs to get more support; long-term costs and sustainability need to be taken into account more. Can we live up to the task at hand?