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Like many issues perennially discussed, debated, and conditionally resolved – at least philosophically – in various environmental fora, food policy issues are, to the say the least, inscrutably complicated. Unlike other issues, however, the food system is not only fundamentally related to human nutrition and social justice but also has recently come to be considered as a major security risk (Dyer 2008) on an increasingly global scale. On the one hand, population growth, changes in consumption patterns, the effects of urbanization on the food system, and the varying patterns of income distribution (Lutz and Samir 2010; Kearney 2010; Satterthwaite et al. 2010; and, Cirera & Masset 2010) drive the demand for food that has become more readily available than probably any time in history (Godfray et al 2010). On the other hand, crop yields, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture production (Jaggard et al 2010; Thornton 2010; Garcia and Rosenberg 2010; Welcomme et al. 2010; and, Bostock et al 2010), in an ever-evolving fashion, fill the supply side of the equation. The delicate balance between demand and supply is also being faced by a number of exogenous factors that threaten to affect the entire food system: the possible effects of climate change, competition for water, energy and land, and agriculture’s dependency on, and provision of, ecosystem services (Strzepek and Boehlert 2010; Smith et al. 2010; Power 2010; Gornall et al 2010; Jaggard et al. 2010; and, Woods et al. 2010). The recent 2008 food crisis, for example, provides a glimpse into how rapidly a food security issue could escalate; readily pushing the hungry and malnourished people over the one billion mark (McMichael and Schneider 2011). There is, therefore, a growing recognition worldwide that food policy is likely to increase in importance in the coming decades (Godfray et al 2010). However, this is not to quickly jump to a blanket resolution of simply developing and pursuing technologies that increase the supply of food, since many of the issues pervade beyond a straightforward assessment using classical economics’ demand-supply (D/S) balance. The world rice crisis of 2007/08 is a perfect example of how that, despite sufficient supplies of the commodity, a crisis (FAO 2011) of almost
biblical proportions could still arise. Nevertheless, it is always fundamentally qualified to anchor any analysis on a sound, fact-based D/S balance framework. It is on the usefulness of this framework that the evidence, premise, and arguments presented in this paper are predicated. Therefore, as this paper discusses the topic agriculture and aquaculture in a changing world, the reader is advised to take on the lens of this framework to be able to appreciate not only the complexity of the topic at hand but also the interconnectedness of a broad range of disciplines involved. In many cases, a third alternative is proposed whenever giving justice to competing interests of parties involved is not possible. For example, achieving higher crop or fish yields from the same acreage without impacting negatively on the environment may require a new way of food production, that is, sustainable intensification (Royal Society 2009; Godfray et al. 2010). This is a recurring theme in this paper that will shape the overarching spirit of its narrative. Unfortunately, on the grand scheme of issues surrounding the food system, much of the policy interventions and the science that presumably, and ideally, precede them, place a bias on the supply side rather than on the demand side. Thus, in this paper, industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture and aquaculture will be examined more closely in terms of their respective benefits, costs, and environmental risks. The effects of exogenous factors like natural disturbances, particularly climate change, will also be discussed. Finally, given the arguments presented in the preceding sections, some recommendations will be made as to how a developing country can minimize risks and environmental degradation while retaining the ability,
*Author Jaivime Evaristo is a graduate student in University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Science in Applied Geosciences program. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. **IGEL is a Wharton-led, Penn-wide initiative to facilitate research, events and curriculum on business and the environment. IGEL Student Research Briefs are written by students on relevant issues in business and the environment and do not represent the views of Penn, Wharton or IGEL. Learn more at http:// environment.wharton.upenn.edu
and sovereign responsibility, of feeding its people. Agriculture in a changing world This section discusses the benefits, costs, and environmental risks of industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture. Industrial agriculture views the farm as a factory with “inputs” (e.g. pesticides, feed, fertilizer, fuel) and “outputs” (cereal, meat, etc.). Its goal is to increase yield and decrease costs of production by exploiting economies of scale (UCSUSA 2010). Benefits Barring a peak in the early 1970s, the cost of food globally declined from the early 1960s up until 2002, since when it has started to establish an upward trend (FAO 2011). Figure 1 illustrates this declining price trend before 2002, which was a testament to the growth of aggregate agricultural production – largely due to industrial-scale agriculture as a technological offshoot of Industrialization (Moore 2010) – that outstripped the aggregate demand for food; this was despite the fact that human population almost doubled over the same period (Speilman and Pandya-Lorch 2009). The economies of scale achieved by an industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture, therefore, is its foremost benefit.
generally leads to increased access to food from lower-income countries. For example, since the 1960s, industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture has been applied to bring about aggregate increases in cereal output – the Green Revolution – in less industrialized countries like Mexico and India (Woodhouse 2010). Another benefit of industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture, although not widely discussed in the literature, is the establishment and growth of ancillary industries, particularly the large, corporatecontrolled agrochemical companies (McKenzie 2007).
Fig. 2. Estimating the effects of aggregate agricultural growth on the distribution of expenditures. Income decile 1 refers to the poorest 10 percent of the population, and so on. Expenditure is used as a proxy for income, as is common in analysis of household survey data. Source: FAO 2011
Fig. 1. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Price Index, adjusted for inflation, 1961-2010, calculated using international prices for cereals, oilseeds, meats, and dairy and sugar products. The official FAO Food Price Index has been calculated since only 1990; in this figure it has been extended back to 1961 using proxy price information. The index measures movements in international prices, not domestic prices. The United States gross domestic product deflator is used to express the Food Price Index in real rather than nominal terms. Source: FAO (2011)
The benefit of increased yields, due to higher efficiency in production, means cheaper food prices and
Albeit debatable and in recent times a politicallysensitive topic, the growth of “corporate agrochemical companies” may be regarded as a benefit, not only because of the jobs and other related industries that it supports but also because of the privatization of research and extension activities – effort priorities that may not be very high in the agenda of the public sector, especially in developing countries. In addition, both the latter and the benefits of increased yields from industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture result in greater ability of a producing country to export goods and services. For example, Brazil’s agribusiness export sector controls one-third of its GDP (McKenzie 2007). Moreover, surpluses from producing countries and/or the economic incentives to export mean that the changing demand patterns – increased demand for fish, poultry, and livestock products in addition to staple caloric sources like rice, wheat, and maize – of more affluent consumers in Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America are adequately met and positively reinforced (Delgado 2003). Production for the international market, however, requires a complex struc2
ture such that only industrial-scale agriculture, intensive or semi-intensive, can often meet this requirement (Rivera-Ferre 2009). Especially in developing countries, industrial agriculture directed towards export markets is being actively promoted and supported by international development and financial institutions as a way to obtain foreign exchange earnings, reimburse external debt, and promote development (Lewis et al 2003; FAO 2006; Armitage 2002). Although this presumed “benefit” is oftentimes debatable (Lipton 1977; Byres 2004), the ability of industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture to generate income for the exporting country and support jobs, especially for the poor, is generally accepted (FAO 2011). Figure 2 shows that an increase in agricultural growth has a stronger, more positive impact on the income of the poor than does an equivalent increase in non-agricultural growth.
tion may be observed. In general, industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture depends on expensive inputs from resources off the farm, like pesticides and fertilizers; many of which generate wastes that harm the environment (Horrigan et al. 2002). According to Ghosh (2010), there exists a tight coupling of energy and agriculture markets, which means that rising energy costs, mainly from fuel and fertilizer prices, have a direct effect on food production costs. Also, since production tends to be concentrated, there is a possibility for a grand agricultural scheme to drive out small producers and undermine communities, thereby, raising a social justice issue (Weis 2010). The following are the environmental risks and costs commonly associated with industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture (Woodhouse 2010):
Soil compaction through excessive use of machinery Contamination of groundwater and surface drainage with fertilizer (phosphates and nitrates) and pesticide residues Reduction in ecological biodiversity (including, as a consequence, increased vulnerability to crop pests) High rates of greenhouse gas emissions due to petroleum consumption (as fuel and in fertilizer manufacture) as well as from land clearance for food production In arid climates, depleted groundwater and salinization in soils where drainage is inadequate (Mollinga 2010)
Fig. 3. Percentage of household budget spent on food by the lowest expenditure quintile of the population. Source: FAO Rural Income Generating Activities project (2011)
Moreover, Figure 3 implies how cheap food prices from industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture benefit especially the poor since, on a household level, they are the ones who spend an already large majority of their income on food (FAO 2011). Finally, although usually portrayed and perceived as having negative environmental impacts, industrialscale terrestrial agriculture can also produce positive ecosystem services, if managed appropriately, e.g. flood control, wildlife habitats, and carbon sequestration (Power 2010). Costs and environmental risks Costs and environmental risks of industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture are plenty. Depending on the party examining these costs and environmental risks, varying levels of amplification or simplifica3
In addition, industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture requires huge capital investment for the purchase of machinery and agrochemical inputs. As this favors farmers who have access to capital, it tends to marginalize small producers not only in terms of output, which tends to be generally more competitively priced, but also in terms of control of land and water. As Griffin et al. (2002) point out, this is an issue that has provided the basis for arguments in favor of redistributive land reform. Another drawback to industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture, which has overlapping ecological and socio -economic costs, is land conversion. Although relatively little new land has been brought into agriculture over the last 50 years – notwithstanding the major biodiversity impacts and social costs that this modest conversion brings with it – a surge in energy prices could increase the pressure to convert new land to agriculture (Woods et al. 2010). As Godfray
et al. (2010) find, there is little scope for agricultural land expansion in Asia and most of Europe, but there may be considerable room for expansion of agricultural land use in South America and in SubSaharan Africa. The same group of researchers, however, was quick to caution that there would be significant environmental and cultural costs to future land conversion, especially if it involves further destruction of rainforests.
Table 1. Estimates of inputs of fossil fuel energy for the production of various food Food type Vegetable crops1 Sheep farming Rangeland beef Rangeland beef Broiler farming Pig raising Feedlot beef produc on
-forestry schemes (Woods et al. 2010) are just some of the opportunities that exist in the “third alternative”. Aquaculture in a changing world Aquaculture is one of the three components of aquatic food; the other two being marine capture and freshwater capture (Godfray et al. 2010). It can be categorized as the aquatic counterpart of industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture, in that inputs are strongly influenced by man to generate a desired level of output per unit area. The high yield per unit area is maintained by inputs of feed produced from other ecosystems, usually in a complex value chain that resembles very closely its terrestrial equivalent. Benefits Global fish production has increased approximately 80 times in volume since 1950, reaching to some 137 million tons in 2006 (FAO 2007, 2009). However, capture fisheries production – marine and freshwater – was considered unsustainable as far back as early 1990s, and has been stabilizing at approximately 90 million tons since 2000 (FAO 2008, 2009). Considering the world population projections of 2 billion more people primarily in Africa, Asia, and Oceania by 2050, the requirement is for an additional production of 75 million tons of fish. Garcia and Rosenberg (2010) investigated on the future of marine capture fisheries and argued that there is little scope for increased production and a real risk of further declines in catches if overfishing continues. This is where the value of aquaculture rises to prominence. Aquaculture production has increased significantly and now contributes well over one-third of the total fish production (FAO 2008, 2009). Like industrialscale terrestrial agriculture, intensive aquaculture exploits the economies of scale from increased yields due to higher efficiency in production. This translates to a number of benefits like cheap prices of fish and fish products, greater ability to meet total fish demand even with the stabilizing rates of harvest from catch fisheries (see Table 2), and the ability of producing countries to export and realize benefits, albeit debatable, in foreign exchange earnings, local jobs creation, etc. (Lewis et al 2003; FAO 2006; Armitage 2002). Unlike industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture, however, there is considerable potential
Kcal of fossil energy in‐ put per Kcal of protein output 2‐4 10 10 10 22 35 20‐44, 78
and Pimentel (1979), Hall et al. (1986)
Source: Folke and Kautsky (1991)
Synthesis – industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture In summary, since industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture exploits the economies of scale, it has the ability to feed a population that is not only growing but also evolving in terms of consumption patterns due to urbanization and increasing levels of affluence. More than any alternative, it has the ability to feed people, especially in the developing world, who either have little or nil disposable incomes. The qualified question to this aggregate benefit of industrialscale terrestrial agriculture is, of course, is it sustainable? Since the changing consumption patterns in many parts of the world where affluence is increasing tend to favor high-protein meat diets that require an even more amount of energy input for every amount of calorie output (see Table 1), the enumerated negative environmental impacts – on land, water, air, and biodiversity – as well as social and cultural costs, can only be amplified even further. Although not always, and usually easier said than done, a third alternative to a deadlock between two competing interests – industrial food production to feed the world on one hand, and conservation of ecological biodiversity and resilience on the other – may exist. For example, a change in tillage practices, more efficient fertilizer use and production, and agro
for expansion in aquaculture, with the major limiting factors being access to, not availability of, land and water as well as adequate market prices to provide a viable return on investment in installation and operating costs (Bostock et al. 2010). Aquaculture production has increased at an average annual rate of 8.3% between 1970 and 2008, and there is no indication that maximum potential is being approached globally or regionally (FAO 2008, 2009).
Table 2. World fisheries and aquaculture production
Table 2 lists the environmental risks and costs commonly associated with aquaculture (Primavera 2006):
Table 2. Ecological consequences of aquaculture development Impact Description Globally, more than a third of mangrove forests have disappeared over the last two decades, whereby shrimp activity is the single major activity that accounts for 35% of such decline (Valiela et al. 2001) Many aquaculture farms in Asia stock wildcaught juveniles rather than hatchery-reared post-larvae derived from wild spawners or broodstock. Collection of such ‘seedstock’ can have major consequences for wild fisheries in terms of high rates of bycatch The potential negative effects of such introductions include the degradation of host environment, disruption of the host community, genetic degradation of the host stock, and the introduction of diseases and parasites Excessive and unwanted use of such chemicals can result in toxicity to non-target populations (cultured species, human consumers, and wild biota), development of antibiotic resistance, and accumulation of residues (Holmstrom et al. 2003) Untreated wastewater laden with feed remains and fish feces may contribute to nutrient pollution near coastal ponds and cages (Braaten et al. 1983; Gowen and Bradbury 1987) Pumping large volumes of underground water to achieve brackish water salinity for the aquaculture ponds could lead to the lowering of groundwater levels, emptying of aquifers, land subsidence and salinization of adjacent land and waterways Many small pelagic fisheries exploited for feed are over-fished. The impact of pelagic fisheries depletion is thought to reduce available food supplies for marine predators, including valuable species consumed by humans (Folke and Kautsky 1989; Fischer et al. 1997). Moreover, this provides a basis against the argument that aquaculture is supposed to stand for, that is, security of supply, since the growing use of fish meal and fish oil competes directly with a potential protein source for humans
Habitat loss/ modification Collection of wild seed and broodstock; loss of bycatch Introduction of nonindigenous organisms; spread of diseases Use of antibiotics and chemicals; increased toxicity Aquacultural wastes and coastal pollution; effluent discharge Salinization of soil and water
Source: FAO (2011) The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture. Excluding data for aquatic plants.
Fish currently provides more than 2 billion people with at least 20% of their average per capita intake of animal proteins (FAO 2009). In many poorer island and coastal states, this could go up to as high as 50% of the total animal protein intake (FAO 2007; Laurenti 2007; Bell et al. 2009). Assuming the projected declines in wheat or rice production take place under a number of climate-change scenarios, thereby impacting on the availability and/or cost of livestock, aquatic sources have the potential to meet the supply gap in protein requirements (Rice and Garcia 2011). Costs and environmental risks Like industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture, the costs and environmental risks of aquaculture are many. For the purposes of this paper, the negative impacts of aquaculture on the environment are discussed interchangeably between two main types of aquaculture – marine or coastal and freshwater aquaculture – wherever applicable.
Dependence on fish meal and fish oil; trophic-level interactions
Other negative impacts of aquaculture are socioeconomic: loss of ecosystem goods and services; blocked access to coastal resources by pond and pen/cage structures; navigational hazards; privatization of public lands and waterways; conversion of residential, agricultural (rice, pastures) and common lands; salinization of domestic and agricultural wa5
ter supplies (as above); rural unemployment and urban migration; and in some cases human rights abuses, social disruption, conflicts and violence (Bailey 1988; Primavera 1997; EJF 2003, 2004). Like industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture, the relatively high capital investments in aquaculture are a barrier to its adoption, especially in developing countries (Griffin et al. 2002). In addition, it is heavily dependent on fossil fuel inputs, which not only equates to occasional volatility in prices but also to a relatively high greenhouse gas emissions (as fuel and in the manufacture of chemical inputs).
Table 3. Differing directional pulls on policies and activities to address the role of oceans and coasts in addressing global food security and to improve conservation of aquatic biodiversity (Rice and Garcia 2011)
Policy or activity
Fisheries harvest rate
Maximum sustainable, allowing for major uncertainties At sustainable rates; ensure impacts on dependent predators are sustainable Fully use at sustainable rates; highest catches at lowest cost and effort Increase scale and use optimal strains for domesticated growth and integrated facilities Expand in productive coastal areas; use optimal species and strains
economic strata, especially the poor. However, as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA 2005) concludes, the current rate of production has been unsustainable, given its various environmental, biodiversity, and socio-economic costs. It strikes a bitter ethical discord that hard choices have to be made between balancing the risks of declines in biodiversity or ecological resilience and the risks of famines in less economically empowered countries, particularly in the developing world. More conceptually disconcerting, however, is the fact that the stakeholders in both food security and biodiversity conservation agenda appear to approach the same issue quite differently, sometimes in fundamentally antagonistic ways (see Table 3). Thus, there exists a perception of conflict between the two sides. In the hope of meeting the valid interests of both parties, perhaps, it is worth considering the possibility that a “third alternative” exists. A third alternative could judiciously come in between in the form of, for example, better spatial planning and zoning, cultivation of fish from lower trophic levels (noncarnivores) or “fishing through the food chain” concept (Essington et al. 2006), better and novel ways of farm and effluent management, and avoiding use of prophylactic treatment when choices for optimizing environmental conditions, nutrition, and hygiene in the ponds/pens exist. Impacts of climate change and natural disturbances on agriculture and aquaculture Effects on Agriculture Impacts of climate change and extreme events, like drought, high temperature events, floods, and tropical storms on agriculture, may be categorized into two main areas: water and land use. Being one of the greatest consumers of water globally, agriculture could face serious threats as a result of water shortages (Strzepek and Boehlert 2010), not only because of climate change but also because of other factors like growing competition with domestic/ municipal and other large-scale industrial users. The latter, however, is expected to be a more dominant issue than climate change until the second half of this century (Godfray et al. 2010). Water is also required to maintain functioning ecosystems; the concept of environmental flow requirements (EFRs), however, is not traditionally included in water budgets. Using a watershed level, global model to explore the water available for agriculture under different climate change scenarios, Strzepek and Boehlert (2010) conclude that meeting EFRs is, perhaps, the single greatest challenge to agricultural supply, although there
Fishing on lower trophic levels
Minimize to avoid impacts on dependent predators Key areas for inclusion in highly protected networks Avoid non-native species and strains, site only where habitat and ecosystem impacts are minimal Protect productive coastal habitats as priority; use only local strains
Fishing in high productivity areas
Synthesis In summary, aquaculture has a tremendous potential to fill in the gap in the supply of fish and fish products, which looms to become increasingly wide as catch rates continue to fall due to overfishing. Like industrial-scale terrestrial agriculture, aquaculture exploits the economies of scale thereby resulting in relatively cheaper prices and, generally, affording greater food access to people from more diverse socio-
may be huge regional variations considering that water dynamics are much more local than CO2 dynamics. They add that maintaining EFRs in watersheds such as the Colorado and the Nile will be particularly difficult for agriculture. Moreover, as Jaggard et al (2010) illustrate, changing rainfall patterns could result in different regions experiencing higher and lower precipitation. Such that, even where higher rainfall may supposedly benefit agriculture, if it occurs in high -intensity events, much may be lost to run-off.
port them. For example, availability of well-adapted crop yields, livestock breeds, and human knowledge and expertise.
To summarize the possible effects of climate change on agriculture, some conclusions can be found from Fischer (2008): (1) there are a number of regions where climate change poses a significant threat for food production [by 2050]; (2) the global balance of food production potential for rain-fed cereal production of current cultivated land might slightly improve There are also a number of research questions that in the short term [between 2010 and 2020]; effective still need to be answered with greater certainty reagronomic adaptation by farmers to a changing cligarding the impact of climate change on soils; many mate and the actual strength of the so-called CO2 ferof which are intimately linked to water. Moreover, tilization effect on crop yields will be decisive; and, (3) Gornall et al. (2010) explain that most climate models beyond 2050, negative impacts of warming dominate predict rises in temperature that will have mixed efand cause a rapid decrease of the crop production pofects on agricultural production. For example, the ef- tential in most regions and for the global aggregate. fects will be possibly positive in medium latitudes but negative in the tropics, especially in areas where low Effects on Aquaculture agricultural productivity is already a serious issue. Other anticipated climate change impacts may be conIn general, aquaculture, because of the ability of husidered as controversial at this point, e.g. intensity mans to control the biophysical conditions to a conand frequency of tropical storms, sea-level rise, and siderably tolerable range for the cultured fish, may be increases in pest and disease incidence. For the sake less affected by climate change than the case might be of argument, however, Jaggard et al (2010), for examfor capture fisheries. However, it is important to emple, argue that food production will be affected phasize at this point that even with the broader conthrough rises in sea level that risk inundating coastal cerns for capture fisheries, a number of research quesagriculture. On a land use level, already the perceived tions still await for answers (Rice and Garcia 2011), threat of climate change has led to a major increase in considering that efforts to elucidate on the possible the fraction of land used for biofuels, despite serious effects of climate change are still relatively recent. It doubts about the net reduction of greenhouse gas is, therefore, useful at this point to conceive the possiwhen the activity is fully accounted for (Godfray et al. ble effects of climate change on the fisheries industry 2010). If these potentially negative impacts of climate – aquaculture and capture – by constraining our dischange and related natural disturbances on agriculcourse within the confines of the following points: ture actually take place, the prices of food may get se Changes in species ranges might destabilize speverely affected, with the potential to result in catacies relationships that help maintain ecosystem strophic casualties from famine. processes
Productivity might be reduced and/or misDespite the expected negative impacts of climate matched to phenology of grazers and secondary change on agriculture, however, it is important to note consumers that climate change may also have some positive effects on agriculture (Godfray et al 2010). For example, Alien invasive species might become a greater threat and uses of non-native species and strains increased CO2 levels can increase yields, especially in in aquaculture could aggravate this threat C3 plants. IPCC (2007) predicted modest global increases in yields because of increased CO2 levels. Ecosystem resilience to the pressures associated However, IPCC was also quick to highlight some imwith climate change might be reduced by stresses portant caveats. First, the increase critically depends placed on marine communities by fishing and degon CO2 fertilization; already, several recent studies radation of coastal environmental quality have suggested that this effect may have been overes Marine and coastal habitats will be under joint timated (Ainsworth et al. 2008). Second, while the stress from climate-related pressures of sea-level expected global average yields are high, many areas, rise, temperature change, and acidification, and particularly in the tropics, are likely to suffer signififrom direct anthropogenic impacts of destructive cant yield reductions. Finally, many of these benefits fishing, nutrient enrichment, etc. will ultimately depend on other factors that can sup7
According to the FAO (2011), the consequences of climate change on aquaculture will be especially significant in Asia, just by the sheer size of aquaculture activities in the continent, which accounts for at least 90% of the total aquaculture harvests worldwide (Primavera 2006). FAO (2011) adds that sea-level rise in the coming decades will increase salinity intrusion further upstream, thereby affecting brackish-water and freshwater culture practices. Adaptation may involve moving aquaculture practices further upstream or shifting to more salinity-tolerant strains. On the other hand, aquaculture in temperate zones will be more affected by water warming to levels that will exceed the limit for many farmed species and will require changes in farmed species. In addition, the increase in extreme weather events may affect aquaculture in several ways: physical destruction of aquaculture facilities, loss of stock, and spread of disease. Climate change is also expected to affect static waters profoundly by increasing the concentration of some chemicals in the water to toxic levels and by changing the stratification of the waters, leading to increased oxygen depletion and increasing mortality of cultured stocks. Like on agriculture, the effects of climate change on aquaculture are not all negative. For example, FAO (2011) argues that some inland waters could experience an increase in the availability of phytoplankton and zooplankton, which would boost aquaculture production. Moreover, while increased salinity in deltas will push some aquatic farming upstream, it could also provide additional areas for shrimp farming, often a higher-value commodity, albeit one with higher energy consumption. Conclusion - Sustainable intensification: a perspective from and for the developing world
not equitably and sustainably address global food insecurity. This is a paradoxical challenge that certainly warrants global attention, especially from industrialized countries that have the technological means and maybe even the moral responsibility to lead, if the world is to pursue the “path unforetold”. That is not to say, however, that the developing world does not have a role to play. If anything, it has every greater responsibility in all facets of the challenge. As someone from a developing country, this issue could not come any closer to heart. Primarily a rice exporter decades ago, which laid the impetus for the establishment of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the country, the Philippines now imports rice from its neighbors. This dependence on imports not only means vulnerability to external price shocks, as was the case during the 2007/08 rice crisis, but also considerable political pressure on the country’s leadership to re-build the path to rice production sufficiency. Oftentimes, this equates to the cultivation of more land for agriculture. And, as discussed in earlier sections of this paper, this is unsustainable given the adverse environmental impacts on soil, water, and biodiversity. Now, change the food product to, say, shrimps, and the picture will change rather quite differently – on the demand side at least. That is, this time being driven more by foreign exchange earnings from the export of shrimps than by the need to become self-sufficient [of the shrimp food]. The case for rice and the case for shrimps, in Philippine context, are great examples of how different drivers of demand can have similar adverse impacts on the environment. This means that regardless of the arguments for agriculture/ aquaculture intensification, trade-offs may still arise. In a country that places Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) on top of its economic agenda, the concern for the environment is one that is usually left to the NGOs and the academia. By Western standards, this is a depressing reality; by human standards, this is by no means necessary, much less morally justified. At some point in the discourse, like in earlier sections of this paper, a “third alternative” may be possible.
In industrialized countries, agricultural area has fallen by 3% between 1961 and 2007, but has risen by 21% in developing countries (FAOSTAT 2009). However, although the aggregate output is quantitatively greater than the aggregate food demand, it is unfortunate to note that one in seven people today still do not have access to sufficient food, primarily in the developing world, while an equal number are overfed (Godfray et For example, the concept of “sustainable intensificaal. 2010). tion” (The Royal Society 2009) may be something that developing countries, like the Philippines, need to consider. This concept argues that production growth Furthermore, a number of studies synthesized by The targets must be achieved without the cultivation of Royal Society (2009) argue that the demand for food additional land; or, the conversion of additional manby rich countries will divert supplies away from poor- grove forests, for that matter, to shrimp farms. Some er nations and that international markets alone will of the attributes that form the body of this concept are
the following: (1) the use of crop varieties and livestock breeds with high productivity per externally derived output (2) harnessing agro-ecological processes such as nutrient cycling, biological nitrogen fixation, allelopathy, predation, and parasitism (3) making use of local intellectual capital to adapt and innovate, and social capital to resolve common landscape-scale problems (4) quantifying and minimizing the impacts of system management on externalities such as GHG emissions, clean water availability, carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, and dispersal of pests, pathogens, and weeds. Moreover, this concept espouses a complete departure from the either/or approach commonly associated with food security debates. In short, no techniques or technologies (e.g. GM crops, use of pesticides, organic farming, etc.) should be ruled out. Finally, agronomy, soil science, and agroecology need to be given greater attention than they have been over the last few decades. It is apparent, just by looking at the aforementioned attributes, that a developing country might face some technological difficulties in the assimilation, much less implementation of some of these extremely useful pointers. Thus, this is where the role of the academia and other agencies can play its most critical part. That is, the internationalization of training through placements in developing countries, as well as studentships and postdoctoral research opportunities for scientists in the developing world to study in the USA or the UK. In my opinion, only when a developing country starts to consider all available and viable technological options, without causing any further harm to the environment and biodiversity; and, only when it strives to work towards achieving socio-economic justice for its people, can the path to sustainable agriculture and aquaculture begin. And, again, I chose “begin” not for form but for the substance that it represents. That is, a journey, that ends only when either the people involved stop contributing for the collective good or the earth stands to a halt. The latter, of course, was metaphorical at best, poetic at least. References
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The Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership
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