Agricultural Sustainability is Key to Ending World Hunger

The only way to eliminate world hunger and poverty is to make agriculture more environmentally sustainable.

That’s the conclusion of a new report released this week by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The FAO found that climate change will increase the number of people struggling with food insecurity by 2030 if agriculture does not adapt to the new climate conditions.

The number of people living in poverty could increase by between 35 million and 122 million by 2030. The FAO said that's because population will grow fastest in developing countries that are the most vulnerable to more frequent droughts, floods and other extreme weather events caused by climate change.

As EWG showed recently in its Feeding the World report, agricultural practices like biotechnology, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which are employed by U.S. farmers, are not feeding those who suffer the most from undernourishment. The FAO agrees that these technologies will not end world hunger. To feed those who are hungry now and prevent hunger from spreading, farmers must adopt sustainable practices that help them adapt to climate change.  

Conservation practices, such as crop diversification, drip or sprinkler irrigation, zero-soil tillage and growing more crops that rely less on nitrogen, are key to adapting to climate change and solving hunger. According to the report, adopting no-till alone could lift almost 9 percent of people out of hunger by 2050.

Assisting small farmers to adopt sustainable practices is crucial to reducing hunger. Combined with raising income levels, providing education for women and the poor, preventing wars and violent conflicts, and improving infrastructure like access to markets, sustainable conservation practices can help farmers adapt to climate change, and eradicate hunger and poverty worldwide.

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