Current policies often favor large farms at the expense of small growers who produce grow most of the world’s food, writes Jomo Kwame Sundaram.
Malthus warned that rising populations would exhaust resources, especially those needed for food production. Exponential population growth would outstrip food output.
Humanity now faces a major challenge as global warming is expected to frustrate the production of enough food as the world population rises to 9.7 billion by 2050. Timothy Wise’s new book “Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food,” argues that most solutions currently put forward by government, philanthropic and private sector luminaries are misleading.
Malthus’ Ghost Returns
The early 2008 food price crisis has often been wrongly associated with the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. The number of hungry in the world was said to have risen to over a billion, feeding a resurgence of neo-Malthusianism.
Agribusiness advocates fed such fears, insisting that food production must double by 2050, and high-yielding industrial agriculture, under the auspices of agribusiness, is the only solution. In fact, the world is mainly fed by hundreds of millions of small-scale, often called family farmers who produce over two-thirds of developing countries’ food.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, neither food scarcity nor poor physical access are the main causes of food insecurity and hunger. Instead, Reuters has observed a “global grain glut,” with surplus cereal stocks piling up.
Meanwhile, poor production, processing and storage facilities cause food losses of an average of about a third of developing countries’ output. A similar share is believed lost in rich countries due to wasteful food storage, marketing and consumption behavior.
Nevertheless, despite grain abundance, the 2018 “State of…