Most put in place. However, the contribution of

Most of the world has witnessed dramatic increases in per capita food production over the last 30 years. However, the opposite occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa. Per capita food production in this region continues to decline, and hunger, largely due to insufficient food production, affects about 200 million people, 34% of the region’s population (Table 1.1). Projections to 2015 suggest that hunger in Asia and Latin America is likely to decline with continued economic growth, while in Africa it is likely to remain constant (Dixon et al., 2001).


The Green Revolution is one of the major accomplishments of the past 30 years. During this period, the number of rural poor decreased by half, the proportion of malnourished people in the world dropped from 30% to 18%, and the real prices of main cereal crops decreased by 76%. It was initiated by a small group of determined scientists and policymakers who identified a need for high-yielding varieties of rice and wheat. Then enabling government policies, fertilizers and irrigation, better marketing, infrastructure, national research institutions, strong agricultural universities, the international agricultural research system, and other necessary factors were put in place. However, the contribution of improved varieties to crop yield increases has been 70% to 90% in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, but only 28% in Africa (Evenson and Gollin, 2003).

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The major economic constraint is poor rural infrastructure in Africa. Road density for rural dwellers in Africa is only onesixth the average of Asia (Paarlberg, 2002). Hence, access to markets is difficult; fertilizer.



“Doubly green” means increasing productivity in environmentally sustainable ways (Conway, 1997).



The Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated for the first time that scientific evidence of human-induced global warming is unequivocal, and that the latest predictions are much worse than previous estimates (Houghton et al., 2001). The last 100 years have been the warmest on record. Furthermore, warming during the last 50 years has a clear human signature. Global temperatures will increase by 1.4°C to 5.8°C by 2100; sea levels are rising and are expected to increase by 14 to 88 cm by 2100, flooding low-lying areas and displacing hundreds of millions people. Rainfall patterns are changing, El Niño events are increasing in frequency and intensity, Arctic ice is thinning, and tropical mountain glaciers are retreating.


Chapter 2 World Food Security: Perspectives Past, Present, and Future



Food security has been a problem of concern to humanity from the beginning of time. Cohen (1977) summarized much of the earlier literature.


Hillel says that “as an agricultural and environmental scientist, I am convinced that we have the essential knowledge and capability to manage soil and water efficiently enough to feed all of humanity even allowing for the unavoidable measure of expectable population growth.”


the organizers of the meeting concluded, inter alia, “If all resources are harnessed and adequate measures taken to minimise soil degradation, sufficient food to feed the population in 2020 can be produced, and probably sufficient for a few billion more.”


Wild (2003) wrote that most developing countries have the potential to feed their growing populations if “water is available, the land is properly managed, inputs are used efficiently and crop varieties with higher yield potential are developed.”



At least in the English-speaking world, most credit for drawing attention to the problems posed by potential food insecurity is given to the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, who lived from 1776 to 1834. He was preceded by many others, including Greeks, Romans, and Chinese (Evans, 1998); and Saether (1993) notes that there was a Dane, Otto Diederich Lutken, who wrote on the same theme 40 years earlier than Malthus. The Greeks, like Malthus, were mostly philosophical in their approach, whereas the Romans and Chinese were mostly practical, and tended to stress methods of sustainable and productive land use. In China as well as Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries where irrigation was essential to produce crops, the emphasis was also on the practicalities of sustainable crop production.



But it was Malthus in his series of essays published from 1798 who wrote most eloquently about the dangers posed by failure to grow sufficient food on a sustainable basis. He concentrated on “checks to population,” and says little about food production. The checks he mostly discusses are warfare, pestilence and disease, storms and floods, as well as famines, and he also includes several mentions of countries and regions where infanticide was practiced.


The Ganges is venerated as “The Mother of India,” while the Huanghe is “The Sorrow of China.”


Malthus argued that because population increases by geometrical progression, but food supply increases arithmetically, sooner or later population numbers must exceed food supply.


Ester Boserup (1965, 1981), formerly of the University of California, took a very different view to those expressed in the original version of Malthus’ essay. She believed that population growth drives technical and scientific progress of agriculture, rather than that population growth was checked by failures in agricultural production. In accordance with her hypothesis, she argued that China’s rapid growth of population had driven the extensive development of water distribution systems, the establishment of various systems of multiple cropping, the breeding of dwarf and early maturing rice varieties, and she could now add the more recent successes in the breeding and use of hybrid rice.



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