Demand, Supply, Sustainability and Security
Edited by Raghbendra Jha, Raghav Gaiha and Anil B. Deolalikar
Chapter 15: Best-fit options of crop staples for food security: productivity, nutrition and sustainability
Provision of sufficient nutritious food to feed the world's growing population is the most important problem facing the world, more so than energy. Several authors argue history shows that primary causes of survival crises are food shortages (Brown, 2012). By 'sufficient' and 'nutritious' here we mean sufficient for caloric (energy) needs, and nutritious as the quality (essential amino acids and micronutrients) necessary for childhood development and maintenance of health. In this chapter we analyse this broad statement from multiple angles, with the aim of placing possible food-crop options, and agricultural and biotechnological solutions in context. The approach taken is to sketch the scale of the food supply and security problem, and dissect the interconnectedness of factors impacting on it, focussing on those critical for efficient, reliable and sustainable crop production and yield, and nutritional quality. We then examine the options, limitations and risks of crop-choice and-improvement options, including application of biotechnological methods. Our starting thesis is that existing analyses are too piecemeal to represent the complexity of the problem adequately; thus, they do not provide a basis for understanding the interdependencies of contributing factors. This mode is represented, for example, by a special issue on food security in The Economist (2011).
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