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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Role of the World's Agricultural Lands in Future Food Security

Authors
item Rao, Srinivas
item Steiner, Jean
item Mayeux Jr, Herman

Submitted to: American Society of Agronomy Special Publication
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: July 31, 2003
Publication Date: January 1, 2004
Citation: Rao, S.C., Steiner, J.L., Mayeux Jr, H.S. 2004. The role of the world's agricultural lands in future food security. In: Rao, S.C., Ryan, J., editors. Challenges and Strategies of Dryland Agriculture. American Society of Agronomy Special Publication No. 32. Chapter 1, pp. 1-10.

Interpretive Summary: Food security has been described by the Food and Agricultural Organization as existing when "all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life." The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development framed the issue of the basic human right of universal food security in broad terms of poverty eradication, with the specific goal of at least halving the number of undernourished people in the world by the year 2015. Lack of food security poses a particular burden on peoples and nations in the dryland regions of the world, particularly in tropical areas of Africa and Asia that are experiencing rapid population growth and/or high population density. Global food demand is expected to more than double by 2050 because of population growth and increased per captia consumption. While the challenge cannot be met through increased agricultural production alone, increased production is essential as part of the solution. However, in many cases, production capacities of dryland countries are deteriorating in the face of rapid population growth, misdirected agricultural practices and wide-spread land degradation. New and emerging technologies, along with necessary international, national, and local policies to enhance capacity, have the potential to contribute to improved food security and livelihoods for the people in dryland regions of the world.

Technical Abstract: Food security has been described by the Food and Agricultural Organization as existing when "all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life." The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development framed the issue of the basic human right of universal food security in broad terms of poverty eradication, with the specific goal of at least halving the number of undernourished people in the world by the year 2015. Lack of food security poses a particular burden on peoples and nations in the dryland regions of the world, particularly in tropical areas of Africa and Asia that are experiencing rapid population growth and/or high population density. Global food demand is expected to more than double by 2050 because of population growth and increased per captia consumption. While the challenge cannot be met through increased agricultural production alone, increased production is essential as part of the solution. However, in many cases, production capacities of dryland countries are deteriorating in the face of rapid population growth, misdirected agricultural practices and wide-spread land degradation. Subsequent chapters in this publication highlight these issues in more detail and identify basic principles of soil and water management and plant growth under drought conditions. The authors also identify promising new technologies such as biotechnological approaches to develop improved drought and pest-resistant crop varieties, emerging climate forecast capabilities that might be applied to risk management for dryland farmers, and remote sensing approaches for better inventory and monitoring of environmental conditions in vast dryland areas to better target remediation. The principles and technologies presented in this publication, along with necessary international, national, and local policies to enhance capacity, have the potential to contribute to improved food security and livelihoods for the people in dryland regions of the world.

Last Modified: 7/22/2014
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