With more than 7,000 million people on the planet, who have to feed every day, agriculture represents the world’s industry with the greatest pressure and responsibility. This primary activity has many challenges ahead. The issue is that all must be addressed at the same time.
However, there are 3 priority issues: health, variety and quantity.
This can summarize the great challenges that agriculture has to face and fulfill in the coming decades. Healthy foods are required, which are nutritious and whose origin can be traced. Food variety should also be encouraged, which is decreasing over the years. In addition, it is necessary to produce enough food to meet world demand.
Is all this possible?
Everything indicates that consumers are beginning to buy healthy foods. This is at least in developed countries. But it is expected that in the coming decades the trend will also reach the developing countries. This is why agricultural traceability is on the rise. It will be essential to know where an agricultural product comes from.
Soon consumers will want to know in detail the path that the agricultural product they have in their hands has followed. Then the agricultural products will have to be traced, starting with the obtaining of seed. To later indicate where it has been cultivated, the agricultural products used and the agricultural techniques implemented. Without forgetting the dates and their passage through the distribution and transport chains.
How many proteins and vitamins does an agricultural product have? Soon this and a lot of other nutritional information will have to be made available to consumers. It will not be an advertising option but it will represent a need of the clients that will have to be satisfied to stay in the market. Producers or marketers who do not do so will start to get out of the game little by little.
There is a group of crops that are produced in large quantities worldwide like: corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, cassava, soybeans, sweet potatoes, sorghum, yams, bananas, tomatoes and perhaps another dozen of crops. These are crops that are key to the world’s diet, but which are also favoring the disappearance of other crops with less popularity.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has issued announcements in which it indicates that the world’s genetic diversity is in decline, a result of the globalization of agriculture. That is to say, each time it is produced in greater quantity but with a smaller number of crops, precisely those that have higher demand or better prices. Secondary crops are disappearing.
The first ones that are being relegated are the crops of regional importance. The producers of crops located in specific areas are changing their production by crops with greater demand in the market, because they tend to have better prices. In general, regional crops have little market value.
Food in quantity
We live on a planet with limited resources. The amount of land available for cultivation is not infinite, although the traditional productive system has the approach that it is. From now on, we must increase the amount of food produced without using more land. We are running out of forests and other ecosystems.
What to do?
This is where types of agriculture come into play that represent a viable solution in the short term: urban agriculture, if the agricultural fields are reaching their limit it is time to take the cities; vertical agriculture, upwards we still have an immense margin of space available to cultivate; protected agriculture, to cultivate intensively, reducing spaces and minimizing time.
No doubt, the amount of food that can be produced in the coming years will be crucial for the development of humanity. However, another aspect of equal importance will be to minimize the waste of food, which according to estimates of specialists, currently around 30 percent of food are wasted, a figure that is to worry a lot.