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Future Food Demand May not be Met by the Global Food Trade

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Published on : Sep 09, 2014

The University of Virginia has conducted a study on the global trends in food security and food trade, and has published this analysis in the Earth’s Future which is an American Geophysical Union journal. This study has reconstructed the network of the global food trade based on trade and production data for agro commodities gathered by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. This analysis has been carried out in food calorie terms that are traded between countries. 

It was observed that between the years 1986 and 2009, the amount of food that was traded had doubled and the global food network was interconnected by more than 50%.

International trade in food today, accounts for almost 23% of the worldwide food production out of which majority of the production is moving to agriculturally poor countries from the agriculturally rich countries. 

A professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia has also observed that the food production during that abovementioned period had risen by almost 50%. This ensured food sufficiency for the global population via trade movements.

This study has also provided a detailed analysis of the geographic regions which are food wise self reliant and regions which rely on trade for meeting their food demands.

Most parts of the Middle East and Africa are not self reliant; however, trade patterns have improved in Sahel and the Middle Eastern regions. The Sahel region is a semi-arid, vastly populous region that stretches across the middle portion of the continent of Africa.

In the last twenty years, the number of trade dependent countries has increased worldwide for meeting their food requirements. These countries are prone to food crises during times of global food shortage. The researchers have also noted that about 80% of the world’s diet comprises maize, sugar, wheat, palm oil, soyabeans and others. Greater meat consumption in China has significantly altered the land use patterns in this country. Higher demand for proteins and fats is brought about by greater economic development and growth in developing countries. 

The exports of a country get affected due to unforeseen contingencies and this can have an adverse impact on economies that rely on food imports.

Unreliable food trade may be a result of fluctuating food prices and crop yield uncertainties. And trade can alter the redistribution patterns of food but it cannot enhance availability of food.

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