In the age of increasing industrialization and commercialization, agriculture is facing multiple challenges. Year 2013 saw the record harvest of grain, but less than half of it was used to feed people worldwide. Hunger and malnutrition thus remain the most alarming problems of the humanity. Under the auspices of the UN and the World Bank, world scientists produced their assessment of the current state of global agriculture, which is far from being optimistic, as there are signs of serious mismanagement in this field.
Enormous amount of food produced by farmers is simply wasted every year, while its production entails the problems of greenhouse emissions and the costs on water irrigation. The global food system is dysfunctional, because it is totally controlled by a couple of multinational companies, while farmers cannot compete with them, given the price of mechanization and chemical inputs. In Asia, there is an alarming situation due to the expansion of supermarkets as they reduce the revenue of farmers. Moreover, the amount of land available for small-scale farmers is shrinking every year, despite that they account for the largest part of food production in the world.
Global organizations recognize the need to create agriculture, which would be sustainable in both social and ecological respects. One of their main targets is the reduction of hunger and malnutrition worldwide. Moreover, it is important to provide access to culturally-acceptable and diverse food across different communities. To achieve these goals, it is essential to empower small-scale farmers and to ensure their technical support. Trade policies have to be improved so that food producers could be more financially secure. Development of alternative food networks could be helpful to better connect producers with consumers.
It is particularly important to encourage and support family farming, which has proven to be the most efficient form of food production. One of the main challenges is sustaining water and soil resources, which are being increasingly depleted. Also, many associations stress the need to ensure the genetic diversity of plants and animals. In the overall, there should be more just and democratic distribution of resources and trade policies for smallholders to be able to compete with multinational companies.
- Agriculture at a Crossroads: Findings and Recommendations for Future Farming (2015). Retrieved from http://www.globalagriculture.org/