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Sunday, May 22, 2022

A small portion of the world’s major crops go to feed the hungry, used for non-food purposes


Increasing competition for many of the world’s important crops is turning to uses other than directly feeding people. These competing uses include making biofuels; converting crops into processing materials, such as livestock feed, hydrogenated oils and starches; and selling them in global markets to countries that can pay for them.

In a newly published study, my co-authors and I estimate that in 2030, only 29% of the global harvest of the 10 major crops can be directly consumed as food in the countries where they were produced, which dates back to 1960. was less than 51% in the 1990s. , We also predict that, because of this trend, the world is unlikely to achieve a top sustainable development goal: ending hunger by 2030.

In 2030 another 16% of these crops will be used as fodder for livestock, with a significant portion of the crops going for processing. This eventually produces eggs, meat and milk – products that are typically consumed by middle- and high-income people rather than undernourished people. Diets in poor countries depend on staple foods such as rice, corn, bread and vegetable oils.

The crops we studied – barley, cassava, maize (corn), oil palm, rapeseed (canola), rice, sorghum, soybean, sugarcane and wheat – account for more than 80% of the calories from crops harvested together. Our study shows that caloric production in these crops has increased by more than 200% between 1960 and 2010.

Today, however, the harvest of crops for processing, export and industrial use is booming. By 2030, we estimate that crops for processing, export and industrial use are likely to account for 50% of the calories harvested worldwide. When we add up the calories locked up in crops used as livestock feed, we calculate that by 2030, these top 10 crops will account for about 70% of the total harvested calories other than directly feeding the hungry. will be used.

World map showing the increasing non-food use of crops around the world
These two maps show how the use of 10 major food crops changed from 1960 to 2010. In areas that change color from blue and green to red and purple, crops are increasingly used for food processing, export and industrial use (labeled ‘other’). One hectare is approximately equal to 2.5 acres.
Ray et al., 2022, CC BY-ND

serving the rich, not the poor

These profound changes show how and where agriculture and agribusiness are responding to the growth of the global middle class. As incomes rise, people demand more animal products and convenient processed foods. They also use more industrial products that contain plant-based ingredients such as biofuels, bioplastics and pharmaceuticals.

Many of the crops grown for export, processing and industrial use are exclusively the 10 major crop breeds that we have analyzed. For example, only 1% of the corn grown in the US is sweet corn, the kind that people eat fresh, frozen or canned. The rest is mostly field corn, which is used to make biofuels, animal feed and food additives.

Crops grown for these uses produce more calories per unit of land than those directly harvested for food use, and this gap is widening. In our study we calculated that crops with industrial use already produce twice the calories for direct food consumption, and their yield is increasing 2.5 times faster.

The amount of protein per unit land from processing crops is twice that of food crops, and is growing at 1.8 times the rate of food crops. Crops harvested for direct food consumption have had the lowest yields and lowest rates of improvement across all indicators of measurement.

grow more foods that feed the hungry

What does it mean to reduce appetite? We estimate that by 2030, the world will store enough calories to feed its projected population – but it will not use most of those crops for direct food consumption.

According to our analysis, 48 ​​countries will not produce enough calories within their borders to feed their populations. Most of these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, but they also include Asian countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Caribbean countries such as Haiti.

Scientists and agricultural experts have worked to increase the productivity of food crops in countries where many people are malnourished, but so far the gains are not substantial. There may be ways to persuade wealthy countries to grow more food crops and divert that excess production to malnourished countries, but this will be a short-term solution.

My colleagues and I believe that the broader goal should be to grow more crops in food-insecure countries that are used directly as food, and to increase their yields. Ending poverty, the United Nations’ top sustainable development goal, would also enable countries that cannot produce enough food to meet their domestic needs, to import it from other suppliers. Without much attention to the needs of the world’s malnourished people, eradicating hunger will remain a distant goal.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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