We have endlessly discussed the importance of agriculture in the world and how it provides employment opportunities, economic growth and food supply for a country. But the future of agriculture, farming and the world climate and environment looks bleak with the decline in resources such as water and rise in temperatures.
It is predicted that by 2050 issues such as land degradation and climate change will reduce crop yields by 10% globally and this could force about 700 million people to migrate. A scary thought but it might happen at the rate urbanization has taken over in the last few decades. Land degradation is seriously threatening the lives of literally everyone on the planet. The causes for land degradation are human activity including agriculture and unsustainable management of croplands. Land degradation has led to loss of food security, water purification, energy etc. Upon years of research it has been deduced that land degradation has been caused by developed countries and their high consumption levels due to increased population. This has lead to the vast expansion of agricultural lands and over-usage of natural resources such that we may have nothing left for the future.
Reports conducted by the IPBES show that land degradation has also led to climate change, deforestation, carbon release leading to global emissions amounting to 4.4 billion tons of CO2. Efforts are on to keep global warming under 2°C. Factors such as land degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change require equal priority in being addressed as critical issues affecting the future. Solutions such as sustainable land management and production and consumption practices of land based commodities could help reverse land degradation. Another simple but critical solution is reduction in food loss and waste. Food and food crops are being produced on large scales continuously to feed the expanding masses of population. But a lot of food is being waste as well and this is an issue faced by all countries.
Other issues concerning the future of the environment are the rapid depletion of the forest cover and ground water levels have hit an all time low. The rise in population is one of the core problems that is causing all these issues and want for more and better and comfortable living standards. What was once done by hard labor is now done easily by machines, including farming. Everything is now easily available without too much of a fuss and hence there is no value for anything. Cutting down trees has reduced rainfall levels across the globe. The climate has gotten hotter the ice is constantly melting at the arctic zones.
While food is being wasted in most urban areas and developed nations, there is a massive amount of population that is constantly dying of starvation. There is a huge imbalance across all aspects of life and living creatures. The natural resources are severely strained. It is predicted that in the future people will be eating lesser cereals and more of meat, fruits, vegetables, and processed food. Greenhouse gas emissions are another major threat facing the future. Greenhouse gases are gaseous compounds in the atmosphere that absorb infrared radiation, thereby trapping and holding heat in the atmosphere. This ultimately leads to the greenhouse effect that further contributes to global warming problems. Greenhouse effect is also referred as the incoming and outgoing radiation that warms the earth. Usually UV rays from the Sun are absorbed by clouds, water bodies and the land itself. Some significant greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The Industrial Revolution has played a significant part in increasing global warming by releasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Reports warn that by 2030 hunger and starvation will increase rapidly and about 600 million people could go hungry. Hence desperate efforts are on by the Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate chronic food insecurity and malnutrition. The question to ponder is where the food will come from as agricultural land expansion may not be an option going forward. All agricultural land is being utilized and overused already. Major and drastic changes in agricultural systems, farming practices, natural resource management, rural economies will be needed to work around sustainable solutions for the future.
Some solutions that could be considered would be –
High output will be required out of farms in lesser lands and farming areas.
Preservation of natural resources
Enhancing farmer’s livelihood
Ensuring the poor are fed
Investment in productive activities that affect sustainable agriculture and agri-food systems
Better conservation of biodiversity
Reduction in food wastage and this must be an honest effort that every individual must make
Reduction in greenhouse effect and greenhouse emissions
Better irrigation management systems in farms
Finding alternate ways to tackle water scarcity
Creating food supply chains and connecting better with farmers
Marketing of food produce from farms to consumers such that food produced reaches the masses without there being wastage or spoiling of the food produce / crops
Better storage and management systems for food produce and crops
Many more such changes will need to be made in order to ensure some sort of order for sustainable agriculture in the future. A lot of research and development is being made in the field of agriculture and preservation of food for the future. Across the world, scientists and experts are constantly finding ways and means to preserve the environment for the future. All this can be possible if industrialization is checked as well and gas emissions that erupt from factories, industries, over usage of air conditioners, diesel generators etc. Power is another issue closely related that is necessary for sustenance and at the same time is becoming harder to provide to the ever increasing population. Organic farming and natural food production is definitely encouraged in such crisis and better means of farming to enhance the health of the people of the nation as well as the livestock. Technology and urbanization are held responsible for the current situation and maybe these are also the saving grace for the future as innovation can be put to better use for research in the field of agriculture and farming.