December 9, 2023

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A photo illustrating the impact of food shortage on a community.

Addressing Fertilizer Shortages: Sustainable Agriculture for Global Food Security

Fertilizer shortages are contributing to an impending global hunger crisis. Sustainable agriculture practices, such as crop rotation and intercropping, can help reduce reliance on synthetic fertilizers and promote long-term soil health.

In recent years there has been a growing concern about the shortage of fertilizers which should not be ignored as it impacts food production and global hunger, particularly in developing countries that face an acute problem due to limited access to fertilizers which are vital for their production. This essay examines how fertilizer shortages are linked to impending global food shortages.

food shortage
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

The global demand for food is anticipated to increase by 60% by the year 2050 as mentioned in a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), owing to changes in eating habits along with an increase in population. The current food production rate continues to be insufficient to meet this demand. A critical factor in achieving high crop yields required for optimal food production is the availability of enough fertilizers, therefore any shortages could lead to significant impacts.

Numerous factors contribute to the shortage of fertilizers, and the reason behind many small-scale farmers not being able to buy fertilizers is their high cost, which is one of the leading causes. Obtaining fertilizers proves troublesome for farmers as a result of inadequate infrastructure and distribution channels in rural regions, and fertilizer production and distribution are disrupted by extreme weather events such as droughts and floods caused by climate change.

Food production may suffer greatly due to inadequate supply of fertilizers, up to half of the crop yield may be lost without fertilizers which may cause a shortage of food and a hike in its rates. The impact of not being able to access food is particularly grave for people residing in developing nations, and this can have severe repercussions. The FAO estimates that there are roughly 690 million individuals globally who suffer from hunger, with an expectation of an increase in this number due to reasons such as climate change and economic downturns.

Various proposals have been made to address the issue of fertilizer shortage, so sustainable agricultural practices can be promoted as an alternative approach to reduce dependency on chemical fertilizers. To achieve this objective, techniques like crop rotation and intercropping in conjunction with the use of organic fertilizers can be utilized, and in order to make fertilizers more accessible and affordable. It might be helpful to improve their distribution channels while also reducing import tariffs. The use of public-private partnerships and government subsidies can lead to achieving this.

To summarize what has been stated before: inadequate supplies of fertilizers can seriously endanger global food security as well as undermine attempts at reducing world hunger, therefore it is impossible to ignore the connection between fertilizer shortages and the looming global hunger crisis. Addressing this issue requires us to take action through a combination of sustainable agricultural practices as well as improved distribution channels, along with these measures we also need government policies which promote the availability and affordability of fertilizers.

References:

Food and Agriculture Organization. (2017). The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/3/a-i6583e.pdf

Lal, R. (2004). Soil carbon sequestration impacts global climate change and food security. Science, 304(5677), 1623-1627. doi: 10.1126/science.1097396

Pretty, J., Toulmin, C., & Williams, S. (2011). Sustainable intensification in African agriculture. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 9(1), 5-24. doi: 10.1080/14735903.2010.538008

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