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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

Re-imaging a Food Future.

Re-imaging a Food Future.


Food Deficit Production Map (credit: FAO)


A crisis in food demand over available supply could be only a decade away. Supply analyst and former commodities trader, Sara Menker says:

"We could have a tipping point in global food and agriculture if surging demand surpasses the agricultural system's structural capacity to produce food. People could starve and governments may fall."

Menker's runs an agricultural consulting group Gro-Intelligence that develops 'big-data' production, supply, and distribution models. Their models show the world will be short 214 trillion calories/year by 2027 and that only two places in the world currently have the capacity to produce extra food: in Brazil and in Africa. In Brazil that would require massive deforestation of the Amazon rainforests. While increased production in Africa would require significant fertilizer inputs because soils in sub-Saharan Africa are largely deficient in phosphorus, a key nutrient for plant growth. These severe environmental constraints in both regions will be limiting factors to growth in agricultural production. And Menker's models didn't even include climate change impacts into their calculations. It is obvious that new approaches to existing food production will be required.

Menker offers a vision of food production that considers the entire agricultural production and food supply system. She recommends a 'big data' information approach that is available to everyone as well as steps that could offer assistance to food producers both small and large, today. Unfortunately, in this analysis, how will the technological approaches be paid for and by whom remains a question. She recognizes that agriculture historically has been slow to change so this future may still remain "a future". WHB

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