What is sustainable agriculture?

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Krall S.

The world’s population is likely to reach 9 billion by the middle of this century. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) believes that 60 per cent more food will be needed by 2050 to sustain all these people. Where possible, this food should be produced where it is needed – in developing countries. These countries will have to increase their production substantially to reach this goal, and this will have implications for the limited natural resources on which farming depends, particularly water for irrigation and livestock farming, land for growing crops and grazing, and limited nutrients, such as phosphate. In many places, soil has already suffered lasting damage while water resources are often overused or polluted by fertilisers and pesticides. Agricultural biodiversity has dwindled as farming has become industrialised. These negative effects have heightened global awareness of the fact that agriculture does more than simply produce food, animal feed and energy. It also has impacts on the climate, human health, and global ecosystems. Against this backdrop, how can we shape future agricultural production so that we guarantee food security for the world’s population without destroying the resource base? The answer is that we need productive yet sustainable agriculture that conserves resources. Growth cannot be at the cost of natural resources and must be made as independent as possible of consumption of resources.

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sustainable agriculture
climate change
food security
agricultural knowledge