Problem of food shortage


23 Mar 2015

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Evaluation of agricultural strategies against food crisis

One of the major problems in recent years which is really controversial among countries in the world is the problem of facing food shortage especially in developing countries. This problem is due to some main reasons: high food prices, scarcity of food. These reasons which are mentioned have some serious effects on people health and life. For example different kinds of diseases or malnutrition are really significant because of lack of food. Generally governors name this critical situation food crisis. Different countries after some discussions decided to find a practical and real solution to rescue their people. There are some common strategies such as money charity, food aid, using new technologies in agriculture or usage of Genetically modified food which is a new technology which can cause producing better and more food. In this essay we are discussing about agricultural solutions related to the problem of food crisis and the evaluation of this method in some developing countries. Agricultural improvement has some parts to discuss, for instance irrigation methods and using fertilizers technology, but we are focusing on the effect of fertilizers. ( George Charles Lowrison, 1989)

In general Fertilizers are compounds which are giving to plants to improve their growth and crops quality. Some of them can be absorbed by the root of the plants and the others can be sprayed. These components can be divided in two main groups organic and chemical (Inorganic) compounds. For instance the manure of animals is the good examples of organic fertilizers and Nitrogen, Phosphorus or Potassium compounds are inorganic chemicals. Some of them are soluble and some of them are insoluble. Most fertilizers which are soluble in water can be solved in soil water and absorb by the root of the plant. In this process fertilizer is not the only factor for growth, the plant needs sunlight, water, soil and different gases from the earth to start a process that Biologist name it growth and because of that the plant will grow. Growth is a general word but, scientist defines growth as a multiplication and also increasing the plant cell size. (Lagried, Bockman andKaarstad, 1999)

During the last two decades some countries face some natural disasters such as drought, flood or sudden climate change which are causing many problems in agriculture area. Because of climate change some crops which needed specific situation to grow could not grow, therefore a huge decrease in the amount of crops were seen. And also flood due to climate change caused destroying many farms which were under cultivation. Due to this problems it can be seen a significant food shortage. As a result some governments decided to find new strategies in terms of agriculture. The agriculture improvement has its own categories in response of food crisis. Different arguments have been presented in the recent years. Using fertilizers and methods of irrigation or preserving soil from erosion are some main methods. Gary Toenniessen, director of food security at the Rockefeller Foundation believes that using fertilizer can affect the amount of nutrients in soil, therefore the amount of crops will increase significantly especially in dry regions.(Gray Toennessen,Accessed date: Dec 2009) The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements released a report and argued against chemical fertilizers on the grounds that they can have bad effect on ecological cycles and creating a dependence on chemicals.. Agricultural experts and many policy makers had an argument about using fertilizers and its effect on the amount of food. Based on their arguments they believe that using fertilizers in African countries will decrease famine among them. According to Bill Doyle, the CEO of Saskatchewan-based Potash Corp, using fertilizers for increasing yields against food crisis could be really useful. He emphasized that using the combination of three main fertilizers which are potassium, Nitrogen and Phosphorus can boost the crop yield by as much as 60%. Because of preventing people from famine the world can not feed hungry people without the application of fertilizers in their farms. He believes the world must increase the speed of using these substances to feed about eighty million people around the world. Although overuse of fertilizers has some environmental damages. For instance some serious problems will occur in ground water and it will pollute the rivers. The other effects which the fertilizer can have are in decreasing the soil water therefore it causes scarcity of water to irrigate the farms. (Doyle, 2009). Dr Norman Borlaug who is an agriculturalist and the winner of Nobel Pease prize has some ideas about using fertilizers in the recent years. As far as doctor Norman Borlaug concerned hunger often go hand-in-hand. He thinks one of the sufficient compounds which is really important against this crisis is fertilizer. It can have a dramatic increase in the amount of crops. In each year the world population grows by eighty million, therefore the number of consumers will increase. As a result these people need food and crops to live individually. Currently the usage of grains is really low. In the last decade the usage of seeds has grown among people and its not really easy to provide enough food for people.Dr Norman ((If the farmers stopped growing food today, we would only have enough grains in the world's storage bins to feed the world's population for 58 days)). (Dr Norman, 2008) The arguments of this expert person shows feeding 6.6 billion people are really hard and it seems a good idea to use these chemicals.

In recent years fertilizers are responsible for between forty and sixty percent of food production. These substances improve our soils in each harvest and it causes a kind of promotion in quality and quantity of food. Because of using the elements in the soil the amount of necessary compounds in the soil will decrease each year, therefore fertilizers are supplying the sufficient nutrients in soil to increase the amount and quality of the crops. Based on research in United Nation Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) agricultural products will be sixty percent higher in the year 2030 in comparison to the current year. The agricultural data over the past fifty years shows that the total world grain production such as corn,oats,wheat and rice increase 0.905 billion metric tons in the year 1965 to 2.091 billion metric tons in 2007. This dramatic increase in world grain production is because of 122 percent increase in crop yield.

One of the countries that have a project against its food crisis is Kenya. It is situated in east Africa and situated near Indian ocean. This country is the forty seventh largest country in the world with the population of about 38 million people. (Source: World Bank).Unfortunately this country face many problems in the recent years, but one of the major problems is the food shortage. Many projects have been started against this problem; however researching about agricultural strategies is really significant. One of the projects which was started in January 2003 and still is on going is fertilizers supply as a cure for famine. The agriculturalist in this country use a kind of chemical fertilizers namely Mavuno.. A period of five year drought cause a serious famine for decades. members of cooperating farmer groups in Trans-Nzioia district have increased their maize yields from 8 to 22 bags per acre. In Embu and Kirinyaga districts, farmers harvested more yields it reached from 5 to 20 bags per acre. Approximately 10 bags on average are required to achieve household food security. This project has illustrated that demand for new improved fertilizers the provision of small bags of fertilizers and seeds enabled even the poorest farmers to achieve incremental gains in food and income over a few seasons. Many farmers purchasing 1kg bags quickly graduate to larger amounts. As a result fertilizer supply in this country would be really useful against food crisis. One of the developing countries in Africa continent is Ethiopia. This country is situated in northwest of Africa with the population of 78 million. The staple food in Ethiopia are oil seeds and cereals. People are suffering from famine and there is no proportion between the food demand and supply. Consequently these people are suffering from malnutrition and many diseases. In the year 2002 environmental policy of Ethiopia made some rules to protect the environment and also increase the amount of food in this region. They used chemical fertilizers in smallholder agriculture had a great effect on the quality and quantity of food. After this experience they tried these chemicals in larger farms and again they reached to the same results in their crops especially Cotton. Because of starvation problem in Ethiopia a Tigray project started in 1996 to fight this disaster and rescue their people. The project showed an increase in the amount of yields after some years. One of the crops which had a good result after fertilizer treatment was pea. In general fertilizers have a major role in better and more crops in this country.

As discussed in the previous paragraphs, it seems starvation is one of the critical situations in the current world and this problem lead people to become ill and malnutrient. Consequently scientists, agriculturalist, and governments decided to find a long term solution to increase their yields. Finally after some experiences and arguments they reached to the common idea about using specific compounds which are fertilizers to increase the food to feed their people and rescue them. Generally fertilizers can greatly increase productivity in the current century. After some researches about this project I believe in this idea that using these types of chemicals would be greatly effective on food production and it could be a reasonable solution against famine disaster in developing countries.


  • George Charles Lowrison, 1989, Fertilizer Technology, Library of congress, Simon and Schuster international publication
  • Lagried, Bockman andKaarstad, 1999, Agriculture Fertilizers &the environment, Library of congress, CABI Publication
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