How much of the world’s major crops feed people? you will be surprised

Increasing competition for many of the world’s important crops is sending increasing quantities to uses other than direct feeding humans. These competing uses include the manufacture of biofuels; converting crops into processing ingredients such as beef meal, hydrogenated oils and starches; and sell them in global markets to countries that can afford them.

Many crops grown for export, processing and industrial use are specially bred varieties of the top ten crops we reviewed. For example, only 1% of corn grown in the US is sweet corn; this is the kind that people eat fresh, frozen or canned. The rest is mostly field corn, which is used to make biofuels, animal feed and food additives.

Crops planted for these uses produce more calories per unit of land than those harvested for direct food use, and this gap is growing. In our study, we calculated that industrial crops produce twice as many calories as crops harvested for direct food consumption, and their yields increase 2.5 times faster.

The amount of protein per unit of land from processed crops is twice that of food crops and is increasing at a rate of 1.8 times that of food crops. Crops harvested for direct food consumption had the lowest yields and lowest recovery rates across all measures of measure.

More food for the hungry

What does it mean to reduce hunger? We estimate that by 2030 the world will harvest enough calories to feed its projected population, but not use most of these crops for direct food consumption.

According to our analysis, 48 ​​countries will not produce enough calories to feed their populations within their borders. Most of these countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa, but they also include Asian countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan and Caribbean countries like Haiti.

Scientists and agronomists have worked to increase the productivity of food crops in countries where many people are malnourished, but the gains so far have not been enough. There may be ways to persuade rich countries to grow more food and redirect that excess production to undernourished countries, but this would be a short-term solution.

My colleagues and I believe the broader goal should be to get more crops and increase yields in non-food-safe countries that are used directly for food. Ending poverty, the UN’s main sustainable development goal, will also allow countries that cannot produce enough food to meet their domestic needs to import from other suppliers. Eliminating hunger will remain a distant goal without further focusing on the needs of the world’s malnourished people.

* Deepak Ray is a Senior Scientist at the University of Minnesota (USA).

** TOThis article republished from the site Speech under Creative Commons license. Read the original article here.

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