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    Population and the food crisis.

    Hinrichsen D; Marshall A

    POPULI. 1991 Jun; 18(2):24-34.

    Between 1979-81 and 1986-87 cereal production per capita declined in 51 developing countries and rose in 43 out of the 94 countries for which Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) data are available. Imports of cereals by developing countries rose from 20 million metric tons between 1969-71 to 69 million metric tons by 1983-85. This figure is projected to be 112 million metric tons by 2000. The deficits in developing countries have been made up by surpluses in developed countries; however, the drought of 1988 caused world cereal stock to drop from 451 million metric tons in 1990. The previous level was a safe 24% of consumption, the lower level was dangerous at 17%. Food crisis is brought about by 3 factors: 1) social organization, level of income, and lifestyles determine levels of consumption; 2) technology that is in wide spread use determines the quality (damaging or sustaining) and the quantity (waste products) of effect on the environment; 3) population serves as a multiplier of the 1st 2 factors to determine total impact. Another related factor is inequality which leads to poverty. Population plays another role as land is divided with each generation until the per household land holding is so small that it can not sustain the community. In 57 developing countries, 50% of the land holdings are smaller than 1 hectare. Also, every year 24 billion metric tons of topsoil are lost to erosion. Left unchecked this could lead to a 30% reduction in food production. Decertification has claimed 65 million hectares in the last 50 years just in sub-Saharan Africa. There are strategies for food security: 1) national population programs; 2) integrated planning of future needs; 3) sustainable development; 4) rural agricultural extension; 5) special extension services for women, who are the majority of the farmers in rural areas; 6) give women more legal rights so they can inherit land; 7) increase education for women in rural areas; 8) community development; 9) increase programs for maternal and child health; 10) support integration of traditional and emerging technologies for food production.
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