According to Harvard Business Review, the global population has quadrupled over the last century. In 1915, the world was home to 1.8 billion people; today, 7.7 billion people are driving up global food demand, which is expected to increase anywhere between 59% to 98% by 2050. But food production isn’t keeping pace.
This begs the question: how will farmers keep up to feed a growing world? They will need to farm more intensively, but also more sustainably in order to double food production by 2050.
At the moment, many modern agricultural practices are moving us backwards, with severe environmental problems occurring as a direct result of these methods. Faced with an ever-growing population, farmers are forced to resort to farming practices that increase short-term productivity but compromise the natural environment.
What are the current challenges to effective food production?
- Biodiversity loss
- Pollution by pesticides, herbicides and fungicides
- Pollution by chemical fertilisers
- Climate change – which leads to rising global temperatures, water scarcity and extreme weather
- Soil crusting
- Lack of investment.
Moving towards more sustainable food systems
The most feasible solution for the world’s impending food crisis is for farmers to start farming more sustainably. Sustainable farming is based on five pillars that frame the space in which farmers and other stakeholders must operate in order to be successful at genuinely engaging in sustainable agriculture. They are:
- Maintaining and increasing biological productivity
- Decreasing the level of risk to ensure larger security
- Protecting the quality of natural resources
- Ensuring agricultural production is economically viable, and
- Ensuring agricultural production is socially acceptable and acceptance.
By applying ecological principles, farmers can begin to design and manage sustainable agroecosystems that mimic natural cycles and ecosystems.
The need for stable support structures
Farmers alone are not wholly responsible for sustainable land management; it is only through long-term support and investment that we can achieve the goal of environmental maintenance along with increased production. Government, non-governmental organisations, global policy-makers and the private sector need to join together to develop guidelines and policies that promote sustainable agricultural practices.
Where to start farming more sustainably?
Sustainable farming innovations are the solution to ensuring that we can nourish the human population in ecologically-regenerative ways for years to come. But the prospect of changing the way things have always been done can seem (understandably) overwhelming.
At Zylem, we believe in starting with the earth itself – by addressing the health of the soil, you can have a direct impact on the health of the entire ecosystem. Our experienced advisors are able to assess your unique circumstances in order to set you on the appropriate path towards sustainability. Contact us today to find out how we can help you tap in the Earth’s natural resources with sustainable management strategies: https://www.zylemsa.co.za/contact-us/.