You are on page 1of 22



Explore the costs and benefits of strategies to increase food production in order to
improve food security

Research contrasting locations to draw out the range and scale of issues associated
with increasing food production

EXPLORE- what, why, how, where

COSTS/ BENEFITS- social, economic, environmental- long term/ short term

STRATEGIES- long term/ short term, high tech/ low tech, top-down/ bottom-up,
internationally/ nationally/ locally,



'when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious
food to maintain a healthy and active life.'


ACCESS- more food ≠ greater food security (export etc)


-suitable for needs, adaquatly distrobuted and affordable etc

SAFE- issues around clean water/ disease food

NUTRITIOUS- meets criteria for health, about accessing variety of foods not just
large amount of one type e.g. wheat.

Ultimately a scheme/ strategy to increase food security must result in 'sufficient,

safe and nutritious' food - else the country has not achieved greater food security.
The following pages of this document display case-studies relating to a variety of
strategic styles (as listed above). Each scheme is then evaluated in terms of costs/
benefits and ultimately its ability to improve a countries food security. Case-studies
range from small-scale organic allotment faming to international politics, all intent
on tackling food security at that scale.

Prior to the case-study examples, this document addresses models and information
relative to food production in order to place these case-studies of real examples
into an academically evaluatable context.

The Recommended Daily Allowance scale was created in WW2 as means to ensure
that citizens recieved adaquate food to maintain health, but as cheaply as possible
as means to not affect the war effort. In WW2 Issues around imports being
hykacked became apparent, and the UK had to re-evaluate food in terms of 'need'
and not 'want'.

The RDA gives an idea as to what an indervidual needs to maintain a healthy and
active lifestyle, and can be used as a guide to whether food security is obtained or
not- depending on whether the inderviduals RDA is met.

On average, women need 2000 calories and men 2500 per day, obviously in
severely cold countries this is higher and as a figure is subject to severe fluctuation,
but as a ball-park figure this is acceptable.

In the Western world- this model is often used to show a healthy, balenced diet

With depletion of oil will come depletion of 'sophisticated' methods of food

production, returning civilization to a subsistance level of living standards.
Essentially this means that oil is the base of modern methods and without the
cheap and avaliable resource this style of living and producing cannot be

In terms of population relative to food supply, population grows faster than food
supply, as food supply can only grow arithmetically 1-2-3-4-5, where as population
grows exponentially, 2-4-8-16 etc, in this way Malthus argues food supply cannot
cope with population growth.
Evidence for Malthus

Famines are frequently happening in less developed world countries. These are
also often in countries that have a fast growing population.

Whilst a very old theory Malthus can be adapted for today if we say that increasing
population cannot be sustained by the environment. The 'Club of Rome' applies
Malthusian ideas to the modern world and says that if population continues to grow
our attempts to cater for it will lead to great environmental disasters. This would
include global warming, oil spillage, ozone depletion, desertification.

Malthusian supporters argue that everything at the moment may appear ok but this
doesn't mean we won't face future disasters
A lot of people believe that future conflicts could be fought over water supplies. Is
Malthus' idea correct except that he should have replaced food with water?

This contrasts with


This theory works in the sense what when a problem, such as population increase or
oil depletion occurs, human initiative will conquer the problem- 'civilization will find
a way'.
Evidence for Boserup
There is enough food to feed the world - this is an indisputable fact. The problem
lies with distribution - it is not always where it is needed.

Famine is more likely to be the result of a natural disaster, war or the country
growing too many cash crops. Cash crops are grown to sell overseas - such as
cotton or tea. In times of famine the countries are often producing large cash crop
harvests. They need the money to try and pay off foreign debts

New farming machinery and re-organisation has greatly increased the efficiency of
farms and consequently the yields.

The green revolution produced seeds that could increase yields by up to eight




Ultimately means living from one day to the next, getting by. This generally means
lack of wealth and as such a reduced capacity to cope. These people are most at
risk from illness, disasters and poverty. People live 'on the margins' in rural Africa,
reliant on a harvest that may never come. People in millionaire cities can also live
on the margins, relying on scavenging in rubbish heaps for precious metals to sell
or even foods. People living on the margins have no safety net, and as such often
suffer food security. See above definition for criteria for food security.


Differing international levels of infrastructure means that remote areas in MEDC
countries are more easily connected to food supplying areas than LEDC remote
areas. Food often has a limited shelf life, and thus in LEDC countries staple
carbohydrates are usually grown due to the easy of cultivation and storage ability.
Ultimately this produces food that accounts for part of a calorie intake, however just
wheat and cereals does not create a 'balenced diet'. Improved infrastructure world
wide would ultimately allow fresh foods such as vegetables to be transported easily,
creating a more balenced diet. The improved connection routes ultimately have
implications for what land the roads intersect and could, as a result actually destroy
arable areas in order to improve accessibility.


Limited infrastructure can result in a prolonged length of time involved in
transporting foods, in which case the crop can loose nutritional value though
deterioration. Successfully storing grains and cereals requires specific conditions, to
prevent the crop rotting or becoming infected. Diseased crops in continents such as
Africa have more severe implications for those who are infected as access to
hospitals relys on infrastructure and money and the hospitals themselves are often
over stretched and provide limited care. Another issue is the effects of a large HIV/
AIDS rate, in which immune systems are weakened to a point in which common
colds and illness can be fatal.

An example of a storage/ contamination issue was the 2004 Kenyan Aflatoxin


Kenyan authorities have stepped up food distribution in two districts where a total
of 81 people died after eating maize contaminated with aflatoxin, a poison
produced by fungi which grow on cereals harvested or stored under damp
conditions, officials said on Wednesday. The director of medical services, Dr James
Nyikal, told news reporters that 81 people, or 41 percent of the 197 cases of
aflatoxin poisoning had died. "The toxin is difficult to treat; one is likely to die even
with treatment. The toxin has no antidote," said Nyikal. He said the most effective
way of dealing with the problem was to destroy all the contaminated food stocks
and give residents in the affected areas fresh rations to make sure they did not eat
the bad grain out of desperation. According to the Kenyan health ministry,
poisoning occurred after consumption of the contaminated food on which the fungi
had grown because the grain had either been harvested before it was dry or poorly
stored or transported.


In the Western World, food is readily avaliable in both variety and quantity. As a
result, it appears from our doorstep that food is plentiful everywhere. This,
alongside laziness and lack of imagination may be contributors to the growing issue
within western countries such as the UK of food wastage.

''3.6 million tonnes of food waste a year in the UK

On average 18% of all food bought in a UK household will be binned untouched

60% of UK dumped food 'untouched' "

The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) on BBC

Whilst changing the publics perceptions of food wastage often rely on the media to
convey, there are some initiatives in the UK designed to help people waste less,
such as;

***** a website providing tailored recipes as to what left

over foods can be reinvented as, and also contains details on the scale of the
problem and the implications of such a widespread problem of food waste.


****Major supermarket Morrisons has also launched a high-profiled food saving

initiative in 2009; The UK's fourth-largest grocer has unveiled a "Great Taste, Less
Waste" campaign that it claims will help save families up to GBP600 (US$909) a
year. Chief executive Marc Bolland said: "The best thing that customers can do is to
eat the food they buy - it's good for their wallet and good for the environment." The
initiative will include tips for consumers on where to best to store their food with the
addition of "Best Kept" labels on produce.


****FoodCycle combines young volunteers, surplus food and a free kitchen space to
create nutritious meals and positive social change in the community.

They aim to tackle food poverty, food waste and provide youth empowerment..

*An estimated 400,000 tonnes of surplus food can be reclaimed each year from the
food retailer industry to be made into healthy and nutritious meals.

*There are 4 million people affected by food poverty in the UK. Poor diet related
illnesses cost the NHS 6 billion pounds each and every year

*Young people lack the skills that are needed to find gainful employment and affect
their community positively


Fareshare, a community project in a corner of Leeds, is tackling food poverty in a

HUGE way.

Fairshare are taking good quality food, diverting it from landfill, and delivering it to
people in need right here in Leeds. He works seven days a week in a bid to take
quality food from supermarkets and suppliers that would otherwise end up being
destroyed, and give it to the "food poor". In just 12 months Fareshare West
Yorkshire has provided 238,000 meals to those in need, and kept more than 100
tonnes of surplus food from landfill.

League of Clinically Obese Percentage Populations

# 1 United States: 30.6%

# 2 Mexico: 24.2%

# 3 United Kingdom: 23%

# 4 Slovakia: 22.4%

# 5 Greece: 21.9%

Income disparity within and among developing countries explains how there can be
obesity in the midst of undernutrition. Rising incomes, urbanization, global
integration and more supermarkets have contributed to increased consumption of
convenient, high-calorie foods among the higher income population.
Obesity-related diseases have become more widespread in developing countries.
The continued escalation of food prices has again focused attention on global food
insecurity and its root cause--poverty. Despite international commitments to
improve food security in low-income countries, progress has been limited. For the
70 countries covered in ERS’s Food Security Assessment, nearly 1 billion people
were estimated to be undernourished (food insecure) in 2007. The persistence of
food insecurity is troublesome, because it comes at a time when food consumption
in many developing countries has been improving. In fact, the rising rate of
overweight and obesity in many developing countries is a growing concern. While
the economic and health consequences of malnutrition and hunger have been
studied extensively, less attention has been given to the economic implications of
rising obesity rates in developing countries

The aim of all biofuels is to be carbon neutral. They reduce greenhouse gas
emissions when compared to conventional transport fuels.

In reality, biofuels are not carbon neutral simply because it requires energy to grow
the crops and convert them into fuel. The amount of fuel used during this
production (to power machinery, to transport crops, etc) does have a large impact
on the overall savings achieved by biofuels. However, biofuels still prove to be
substantially more environmentally friendly than their alternatives.

Another advantage of biofuels is that they save drivers money. The UK Government
in particular has introduced many incentives to drivers of ‘green cars’ based on
emissions – with reduced taxation dependent on how environmentally friendly your
vehicle is. With petrol prices on the rise, replacing petroleum with a renewable
energy source should also offer significant savings at the pump in the long term,
particularly when biofuels are more readily available.

There are arguments too that biofuels are helping to tackle poverty around the
world. For example, the Overseas Development Institute has pointed to wider
economic growth and increased employment opportunities along with the positive
effect on energy prices, as reasons to back biofuel production. This is debated due
to the pressures it places on agricultural resources but biodiesel could be a long
term solution as it uses simpler technology and lower transportation costs alongside
increased labour.

What are the disadvantages of biofuels?

There are several concerns about biofuels – and particularly including.

•Biodiversity – A fear among environmentalists is that by adapting more land to

produce crops for biofuels, more habitats will be lost for animals and wild
plants. It is feared for example, that some Asian countries will sacrifice their
rainforests to build more oil plantations.

•The food V fuel debate – Another concern is that if biofuels become lucrative for
farmers, they may grow crops for biofuel production instead of food
production. Less food production will increase prices and cause a rise in
inflation. It is hoped that this can be countered by second generation biofuels
which use waste biomass – though again, this will impact the habitat of many
organisms. The impact is particularly high in developing countries and it is
estimated that around 100million people are at risk due to the food price

•Carbon emissions – Most LCA investigations show that the burning of biofuels
substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions when compared to
petroleum and diesel. However, in 2007 a study was published by scientists
from Britain, the USA, Germany and Austria which reported the burning of
rapeseed or corn can contribute as much to nitrous oxide emissions than
cooling through fossil fuel savings.

•Non-sustainable biofuel production – Many first generation biofuels are not

sustainable. It is necessary to create sustainable biofuel production that does
not effect food production, and that doesn’t cause environmental problems.

The production of non-sustainable biofuels has been criticised in reports by the UN,
the IPCC and many other environmental and social groups. As a result many
governments have switched their support towards sustainable biofuels, and
alternatives such as hydrogen and compressed air. During 2008, the Roundtable of
Sustainable Biofuels is developing principles for sustainable biofuel production


Science vs religion. Traditionally strict Christian societies appose the 'playing god'
role of genetic modification, as do other cultures. New Scientist magasine however
Scientists have both the right and a moral duty to be "stewards of God" by
genetically modifying crops to help the world's poor, scientific advisers to the
Vatican said this week.

Most Buddhists are vegetarian reflecting their adherence to the precept of non-
harm to self and others. Many would not want to prepare or serve meat for others.
Buddhists upholding the precept to avoid intoxication may not wish to drink alcohol,
or serve it. Some Buddhists will not eat garlic or onions.

Most Hindus are strict vegetarians. Some may be vegans (they do not eat any meat,
fish, or dairy products). Some sects will not eat onions or garlic. The cow is regarded
as the most sacred animal to the Hindus. The pig is considered unclean so no pork
or pork related products are eaten.

Muslims will not eat pork, or meat which has not been slaughtered according to the
prescribed method i.e. Halal, as laid out in the Qur'an (Muslims Holy Book) and
Hadith. Intoxicants - drugs, smoking and alcohol are all prohibited in Islam. The
Qur'an, has rules about which foods are acceptable and which are forbidden. Halal
food is food which is
permissible, and food which is forbidden is called Haram. The flesh of pig (pork) or
food containing lard or other animal fats e.g. Rennet in cheeses or gelatine are
forbidden as are the flesh or other related products of carnivorous animals. .

It is forbidden for Jews to eat any meat or poultry that has not been slaughtered in
accordance with Jewish religious custom so only meat/poultry certified kosher is
eaten. Only animals with cloven hooves which chew the cud can be eaten so, for
example, pigs and game are forbidden. Fish must have fins, gills and scales so all
shell fish and some other fish are forbidden.
Sikhs are traditionally vegetarian. Any form of intoxicant (smoking, drinking alcohol,
drugs) is prohibited by the religion.


Farming methods ranges from how farming is organised in terms of commercial
enterprise or subsistance but also the techniques employed upon the soil to
generate a crop.

Subsistance farming is generally considered inefficient relative to commercial

farming. For the amount of land avaliable farmers grow as much as they can.
Usually this does not involve usage of complex chemical fertilizers or GM seeds, but
the farmer simply using seeds from a previous harvest instead of outright buying
new seeds of different crops. The reasons for this are simple, the farmers diet will
not have changed significantly enough to warrent a change in crops. And the money
raised from selling surplus is unlikely to be spent back on the land, but on other
essentials the family wll require. In this sense 'multicropping' often does not occur,
and as a result soil erosion and degradation, especially in highly arid areas, happens
at a rapid rate. This can lead to other issues such as deforestation for new farmland
and desertification alongside human consequencs of falling yeilds including
starvation and poverty.

However, the prime benefit of subsistance farming cannot be overlooked. The

family are incharge of their own crop. It is within their prime interests to maintain
and nurture their crop.

In countries such as Ethiopia many subsistance farmers are being recruited into the
enterprise of commercial farming- to gain regular paid empolyment. The down side
of this arrangement is often that farmers spend this wage on food, and are subject
to market fluctuation as to how much they can buy for this. Land lost to commerical
farming is rarely recovered, and in many circumstances the land has been within
families for generations. In this way for inderviduals concerned, subsistance is more
reliable than commerical on a local scale. However the value of commercial
methods cannot be underestimated. In order to meet the demands of a growing
population, the maximum amount of food must be gained from smaller areas.
Indeed without commerical farming methods, urbanisation and industrialisation
would not have been sustained, and thus commerical agriculture plays a key role in
some aspects of development. Industrialised agriculture, however, relys more
heavily on energy sources, traditionally oil. This brings its own issues of cost and
sustainability. Another key issue is the spacial division of labour as such to target
regions where labour costs are low, and thus it is not within commercial agricultures
interests to pay LEDC's workers a MEDC wage, this reduces profit margins. Thus
employment via commercial agriculture is unlikely to break a family out of the
poverty cycle, only place reliance elsewhere.

Natural processes
1. The occurrence of droughts (periods of below-average rainfall), which can last
for years.
2. High temperatures which cause a high rate of evapotranspiration (the loss of
moisture from the Earth’s surface by a combination of direct evaporation and
transpiration from plants) and therefore a high rate of moisture loss from soils.
3. Infrequent and often intense periods of rainfall which compacts soils, increasing
their erodibility.

Socio-economic processes
There are four main human actions which accelerate desertification - overgrazing,
overcultivation, deforestation and poor irrigation.

This occurs where herd sizes exceed the carrying capacity (the number of cattle
that can graze an area sustainably i.e. without long term damage occurring). If this
capacity is exceeded:
(a) Vegetation changes, e.g. drought-resistant species replace edible species.
(b) Soil quality is reduced, e.g. grazing animals compact and break down the soil
structure, increasing its vulnerability to erosive processes.
(c) The health of livestock and their productivity decreases.

May occur when increasing food production is needed:
(a) To support increasing populations.
(b) When rural people are encouraged to grow ‘cash crops’ for sale in city markets
and for export.

A common feature of all cash crops is that they are extremely demanding in their
nutrient requirements. If farmers lack natural or artificial fertilisers or are unable to
allow sufficient fallow periods, fertility will rapidly decline. Such a process has been
repeated in many African countries - in Chad the area under cotton was forcibly
tripled by Government order and in Niger huge increases in the cultivation of
groundnuts (peanuts) led to rapid decline in yield
and fertility. Declining fertility may lead people to cultivate marginal areas i.e. those
which are inherently incapable of sustaining food production e.g. steep slopes which
are highly erodible or areas which receive irregular and/or insufficient rainfall. Soil
fertility will inevitably fall if vulnerable lands are left fallow (uncultivated) for shorter
and shorter periods of time. Nutrient contents fall and soil structure deteriorates.
This leads to reduced crop yields and vegetation cover, leaving soils exposed to
erosion by wind and rain.

Deforestation and excessive fuelwood cutting.

Forest is cleared for agriculture or fuelwood. This leads to reduced shade and
greater desiccation of the soil, a lowered water table and an increase in the use of
dung (otherwise used as fertiliser) as a fuel source. The resulting loss of organic
matter reduces both the ‘stickiness’ of the soil peds and the water-holding capacity
of the soil; its erodibility therefore increases.
Inappropriate irrigation practices.

Fertility is reduced through salinisation (the build up of salt around the roots of
plants) and waterlogging (caused by poor drainage and the formation of an
impermeable salt crust on the soil surface).

Scale of the problem is significant with 20 million km2 of usable land lost to
desertification each year.

Desertification leads often to other problems, such as soil erosion, and indirectly to
problems such as deforestation to gain usable farmland.

The Sahel region in Africa suffers from soil degradation, soil erosion and
desertification due to the high aridity in the area leading to over cultivation of small
areas to feed the growing population. 90% of soil in the Sahel is phosphorus
deficient due to over cultivation, 20% of arable land has been lost to landslides and
gully erosion.

Coping with desertification

In Burkina Faso, West Africa in the early 1990s, walls of stones, known as 'magic
stones' were placed in fields to trap soil that would otherwise have been washed
away. Crop yields have since increased by 50%.

In Northern China, a ‘Great Green Wall’ has been planted to hold off the
advancing desert and stabilise eroded uplands. The San Bei forest belt will
eventually cover 3.5 million km2. Built by local communities and assisted by
government, this ‘wall of trees’ protects 80,000 km2 of valuable cropland. In 1990,
the annual grain harvest was up by 13%.

In Rajastan, India since the 1980s, Acacia trees have been used to stabilise 600
km2 of sand dunes.

The 'poverty cycle' is best described through illustrating the process;

Lack of income- inability to purchase better quality seeds/ farming equipment- low
capacity to cope with drought etc- low yeilds- little/ no surplus for sale- lack of

lack of income- inability to invest in healthcare- illness-inability to work- low income-

starvation- no income

Lack of income- require workforce to help with land- children- more to feed from
less- no surplus for sale- lack of income.
These are a few examples of the cumulative effects of initial lack of wealth, the final
chain shows how children can become entangled within this web. Commercial
farming introduces a different chain, with similar consequences

Poor yeilds- lack surplus for sale- poverty- sell land to commercial farming- wage
spent on food- lack of surplus for other essentials.

Whilst in this chain food is gained, the dependance is on employers to keep the
staff. Should unemployment occur the farmers loose their land and employment,
which could result in rural-urban migration and contribute to urbanisation and urban

Aims to break the poverty cycle are often in improving healthcare and education.
Healthier people can work and provide for their family for longer, and education
offers children the change of a future away from agriculture, or greater awareness
of issues such as soil erosion which could lead to better and more sustainable
farming methods from the educated farmers.

However farming methods does not just involved commerical or subsistance. Some
methods of farming such as Aquaponics work in symbiosis to maximise production.

AQUAPONICS is a system of agriculture involving the simultaneous cultivation

of plants and aquatic animals such as fish in a symbiotic environment. In a
traditional aquaculture, animal wastes accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity
for the fish. This water is then led to a hydroponic system where the by-products
from the aquaculture are filtered out by the plants as vital nutrients, after which the
clean water is recirculated back to the animals.

Aquaponic systems vary in size from small indoor or outdoor units to large
commercial units. The systems usually contain fresh water, but salt water systems
are plausible depending on the type of aquatic animal and vegetation.

One example of this in an LEDC is within Uganda were aims are to develop a
commercial scale aquaponics farm producing tomatoes and around 5 tonnes of
tilapia per year in one region.

"a severe shortage of food, as through crop failure or overpopulation" (see poverty
cycle for similar circumstances)

Globalisation describes the process by which regional economies, societies, and
cultures have become integrated through a global network of political ideas through
communication, transportation, and trade.

The implications for globalisation within food production and consumption are vast.

-Spatial division of commerical agriculture labour (spreading MEDC firms worldwide)

-Globalisation of food tastes (Corn tortillia in Mexico from Maize) High obesity LDC
(More meat in China, from 1960-2000 4x as much. Increase calorie intake by 42%

-Imports and exports of different foods worldwide (virtual water etc)

-International competition for rock-bottom price

-Aid provision

-International distrobution produce/ aid

-land grabs

The situation in which often LDC countries sell or lease large areas of land to MDC
countries. In this case we look at them in terms of usage to produce food, however
the implications also include extraction of natural resources-such as Chinas Tar
Sand land grabs in Canada to secure oil reserves.

Some of the world's richest countries are buying or leasing land in some of the
world's poorest to satisfy insatiable appetites for food and fuel. In the new scramble
for Africa, nearly 2.5m hectares (6.2m acres) of farmland in just five sub-Saharan
countries have been bought or rented in the past five years at a total cost of $920m
(£563m), research shows.

"Lands that only a short time ago seemed of little outside interest are now being
sought by international investors to the tune of hundreds of thousands of hectares,"
said a recent report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD),
the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

The report said farmland purchases are being driven by food security concerns,
rising demand and changing dietary habits, expanded biofuel production and
interest in what is, in theory, an improved investment climate in some African


A increase in population has international implicatons throughout many areas of
society, including housing, healthcare, transportation and food. The highest rates of
population growth are in countries such as the Maldives (5.6% increase), United
Arab Emirates (3.8%) and Liberia (3.6%) in 2008. Compared to the UK with a lower
rate. However whilst exact figures are hard to get, it is evident similarly wealthy
European countriessuch as Germany are not experiencing a rise in population the
same as the UK, most likely due to differing political policys regarding benefits of
having children in the UK relative to other countries in Europe.

The UK however has a slightly different problem in the respect that is has an
'ageing population' due to two waves of post-war baby-booms. This has some
(limited) relivance to food security in the respect we rely on less people able to
work to 'feed' (pay taxes for) a majority of retired residents.


Should we worry about an ageing population?


* With fewer workers for every pensioner, the pressure on the state will be severe

* More pensioners will live alone than do now, putting more pressure on housing

* Living for longer will not necessarily mean having more years with a good quality
of life


* The retirement age could be higher: we will work longer to offset the pensions

* Immigrants will help pick up the slack, and may leave the country before they get

* Being older isn't necessarily a bad thing, and our ageist perceptions will be

On a global scale- Delhi is the worlds fastest growing city, with an extra 17 million
more people a year! This rapid growth rate has resulted in the once self suficient
region to begin importing, such as in 2006 when 6 million tonnes of wheat were

Involves the growing of multiple crops within a single growing season. It can take
the form of double-cropping, in which a second crop is planted after the first has
been harvested, or relay cropping, in which the second crop is started amidst the
first crop before it has been harvested. One example of multi-cropping is tomatoes
+ onions + marigold; the marigolds repel some tomato pests.

Multiple cropping is found in many agricultural traditions. In the Garhwal Himalaya

of India, a practice called baranaja involves sowing 12 or more crops on the same
plot, including various types of beans, grams, and millets, and harvesting them at
different times.

Intercropping is the practice of growing two or more crops in close proximity. The
most common goal of intercropping is to produce a greater yield on a given piece of
land by making use of resources that would otherwise not be utilized by a single

In more general examples, multicropping is an effective usage of land and

resources. Such as animals can be reared on waste, used to work land, bred and
eaten/ traded. Low till agriculture (lack heavy machinery/ ploughing) and better
usage of water alongside intercropping and diversity in crop grown all have
beneficial implications in sustainability.


Growing crops for sale on the open market does not guarentee a good return every
season. It effects all scales of agriculture, from subsistance farmers buying seeds or
selling surplus to commercial farmers selling to the open market. It effects the
consumer and producers and every person between. 2008 saw a huge increase in
the value of staple crops in many foods, leading to an average increase in grocery
bills per household in the UK of £750 in just that year. However as the value of
certain crops that year increased, wheat was not as successful. Prices per tonne
went from £185 in 2007 to £85 in 2008, the initial crop costing 180 to make per
tonne shows this Waitrose farmer in Hampsire went from profit to loss within a
growing season.

Choice as to what crop to grow and animal to raise may not just depend on
commercial value. In the democratic republic of Congo, guineapigs are being
introduced into farming due to their ease to keep and more importantly
impracticality to steal, as often larger, more valuable animals are taken by looters!

Is likely to increase sea levels, make rainfalls and general climatic conditions more
difficult to anticipate, increase aridity and increase tropical disease occurance. All
these have significant implications for crop production and soil condition. Increased
aridity and lack of rainfall would significantly reduce soil structure and fertility,
increasing the current international rate of desertification by up to 4 times for every
degree temperature rise some reports claim. Reductions in rainfall would result in
entire crop failures and already stretched irrigation facilities would have significant
impacts if usage was increased. HYV seeds which are very water thirsty would be
unable to cope. GM would be likely to move further towards drought resistance,
even if this compromised the quantity of crop that can be produced. Farming isa
contributor to the green house effect from machinery, chemical production and
animals producing methane.


(slightly irrelivant, background to be aware of)

Commerical farming requires oil as a cheap energy source. From cultivating fields to
harvesting crops, spreading chemicals and transporting to the market. Depleating
resources obviously causes concern yet the political manipulation that can be
implimented over oil can mean even when oil is 'plentiful' it can be used as a
political weapon. Russia is notorious for cutting oil and gas supplies over political

100ml of oil generates 100g of cheese. A sunday roast contains two pints of crude
oil 'in' it. And 100 grams of pork requires 70ml of oil to produce.

Food miles relate to the distance food travels from producer- consumer. The shorter
this distance, usually the better, as less resources are wasted on transportation and
the region that produced the food recieves the benefit. However with globalisation
spreading labour worldwide, often slightly more exotic foods, typically fruits and
vegetables are grown abroad where conditions are better suited to the crop and
labour is cheap- such as the Green Bean growing industry in Kenya which are UK
imports. As oil reserves are used up, loss of cheap energy will naturally increase the
costs of these foods bought from abroad. In some situations, such as aid
distribution, food miles become less significant, relative to the benefits the food


Similar to food miles, but relative to where the crop consumed water. Such as a
crop grown in India but eaten in the UK carries the theoretical amount of water from
India to the UK. Virtual water becomes an issue when a country is loosing lots of its
water as a byproduct of exporting food crops.

It is predicted that within 15 years the lack ofavaliable water in the world will result
in a loss of arable land producing the same capacity as America annually.

Virtual water/ water footprint figures;

3.4 litres = 1 gram of rice

15 litres = 1 gram of lamb.

It is predicted that each person in Britain uses on average 3000 litres of foreign
water evert day!

An interesting case study involving water is that of the Punjab Region in India

Whilst the water issue around this region cannot soley be contributed to 'virtual
water' it does not help with the scarcity issue.

The Green Revoution in India resulted in the growth of GM crop production, such as
the HYV IR8 rice crop. The crop is notoriously thirsty, and dropped the water table
significantly in many areas. Well depths in some regions went from 110 feet to 550
feet deep,with the water table dropping 1 meter per year. This does not
demonstrate the issue of visual water, but from here the value of water can be seen
and thus losing it to other countries is evidently a problem.


Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technological
initiatives, occurring between 1943 and the late 1970s, that increased industrialized
agriculture production in India; however, the yield increase has also occurred world

The initiatives involved the development of high yeild varieties of cereal grains,
expansion of irrigation infrastructure, and distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic
fertilizers, and pesticides to farmers.

Genetic Diversity;
Enhanced consistency and productivity

Non-native species are vulnerable to disease, drought and other environmental

changes, which in turn makes human populations vulnerable to famine;
concentration on market-desired varieties often leads to loss of native species and
subsequent loss of biodiversity.
Agricultural Production;

Crops adapted for high yields increase food production locally by as much as 98% in
a single season.

High input requirements such as inorganic fertilizers and controlled irrigation are
not a viable option in developing countries where these resources are limited or

Reducing the rate of deforestation by intensifying agriculture and slowing the
requirement for encroachment into wild areas.

The introduction of non-native species can have adverse environmental impacts,

including displacement of native species and introduction of new diseases.

Increased food production leads to stronger economy, which promotes population

Introduced commodities disrupt markets with unfamiliar products that may

permanently displace locally available staples.

Simply producing more food is not sustainable. People living in LDC countries
internationally aspire to a better quality of life, with better wages, houses and
lifestyles. By making 'poorer' countries grow our food on our wages we are failing to
provide a better quality of life, by keeping workers employed at the lowest wage
possible as part of a capatalist mentality. In order for the world to be food secure,
those working in agriculture must be treated with respect and payed a wage that
truely reflects the value of the job they do. Fairtrade is a scheme in which farmers
in (typically) the luxury goods market like cocoa, coffee and exotic fruits are paid a
'fair' wage for their produce. Often the 'middle-men' between farmers and the
markets are removed, as these inderviduals increase the price of the raw products
by adding value or simply finding a market for the goods. Fair-trade aims to ensure
that those who benefit from the product can make a moral choice to spend a small
amount more of their own money, knowing the value of that extra cost is
significantly more to the farmer than to the individual buying the finished product.
Fair-trade may not be a perfect scheme. It does not aim to 'increase food poduction'
but make it more sustainable by adding a moral element into the equation.
Buying food from regions where conditions are suitable and labour is cheap is often
beneficial to the consumer. Importing means that costs of food production such as
pollution, usage of land and water alongside labour costs are all the responsibility of
the producting nation. However in order to be considered food secure, if a country
soley imports, they rely on another country for their own security. The UK for
example, now imports 50% of its foodm compared to 20% 2 decades ago. This can
be attributed to changing exotic tastes but also a largely service sector economy,
shifting the UK from a producing nation to a service using one. Importing food has
issues for food miles and environmental problems associated with transport links
and commerical usage of chemicals and machinery.

Relying on a variety of nations for different crops however can be seen as a method
of increasing food security. If a nation grows all its own food, if the country
experiences a hazard or infavourable climatic conditions, the whole food supply is
threatened. By spreading the responsibility the chance of all the crops failing is also

Relying on other countries has the potential to fall through as a result of contrasting
political agendas.

One example of the vulnerability involved when a exporter cuts involves CUBA...


The demise of the Soviet Bloc in 1989 resulted in Cuba losing food imports. The
initial impact was significant in terms of extreme hunger and despiration. Alongside
loss of food supplies came sanctions on oil and petroleum imports also. Cuba
drastically needed to reevaluate its own infrastructure to cope with the acute
sortages of the 1990s, and as importing was not a viable option due to political
discrepincies, Cuba had to create a state-supported internalised food production
system quickly. Their responce was the creation of the Urban Agriculture
Department of Havana which targetted open land in Havana as grounds to be
brought into cultivation. Seed houses (12 in total) were set up in Havana to sell and
distribute seeds, medicinal plants, tools, fruit trees, compost and other natural
inputs. The scheme still runs today, the plots of land being cultivated are called
Organiponicos and there are 8000 of these in Havana alone, employing 30,000
people. Self-sufficiency has been achieved here, not through technological inivation
or commercialisation, and limited use of oil due to sanctions has also increased the
'organic' nature of many of the organiponicos. In 1997 urban farmers in Havana
alone produced 30,000 tonnes of vegetables, 3,700 tonnes of meat and 3.6 tonnes
of medicinal plant materials.Production figures have increased every year since the
creation of the scheme as plots mature and farmers become more exerienced in
the techniques involved in maximising produce from small scale plots.

The concept of using avaliable land for those willing and able to cultivate is a
concept chef Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall has shared through creating 'Landshare'.
The online scheme involves those with land to offer a plot to willing people in the
area, who can also post requesting avaliable land. Since its launch from River
Cottage in 2009, 55,000 peoplehave benefitted from the scheme. Support to
growers in schemes such as this include the free BBC seeds scheme called Grow
Your Own which ran parallel to the Landshare launch.



-self reliance subject to difficulty if natural hazard occurs, rains fail etc. Cuba is
within the hurricane zone and may loose entire yeilds due to issues such as this,
creating insecurity.

-if can trade internationally again may not maintain system,

-increased congestion within city as attracted more people for core essentials.


-self sufficieny and sustainability (no major reliance on fossil fuels etc)

-education about where food 'comes from', growth can be seen all around.

-community spirit

-the internalised state structure means when crops have failed rations of beans etc
have been provided.

-better connections between city and rural regions- rural farmers trading seeds with
urban farmers etc

-better infrastructure, as food needed to be transported whilst still fresh.