Intensive farming: The great secret to world food security
Intensive farming has recently become the new buzzword in town. You’ve probably heard about it more times than you can remember. But what is this intensive farming all about?
My short answer; intensive farming is the key to food security, long answer; read on.
Intensive farming is not a new concept in the history of agriculture. However, not so many farmers understand what it entails and what benefits can be derived from this farming system.
Factors of production are slowly dwindling into thin air, as world’s population increases. This means that the demand for food is increasing, but the resources are limited.
Looking at the recent scenario, the following is an excerpt from a report by FAO and the OECD on the dimensions of food insecurity (2014).
- FAO estimates that around 842 million people (12 percent of the global population, or one in, eight people) were unable to meet their dietary energy requirements in 2011-13. About one half of this total lives in G20 countries.
- WHO estimates that close to 7 million children die before their fifth birthday every year, and a third of these deaths are associated with under nutrition.
- One in three developing country children under the age of five (160 million children) are stunted due to chronic under nutrition, while another 99 million children are underweight.
- Micro-nutrient deficiency or ‘hidden hunger’ affect around two billion people (over 30 percent of the world population) with serious public health consequences.
- Food production will need to increase by 60 percent to feed a world population that is expected to exceed nine billion by 2050.
These statistics are painting a very gloomy future. If appropriate measures are not put into place, food security will just become a dream and poverty will continue to enslave our people. We need to either invest in farming or invest in farming to achieve the said 60% food increment required to feed 9 billion people. But how much soil do we have? Just how much land do we have?
Geographically 75% of the earth’s surface comprise of water with 2/3 of the remaining surface of the earth being unfarmable (mountains and deserts).
At the time of writing, only 1/48 of the entire earth’s surface is left to potentially raise food for 6.5 billion people and many times more animals. Up to this point, you must be feeling bogged down and wondering if there is a way out.
Good news; we do have a way. Intensive farming which in a nut-shell is characterized by lowland ratio and higher use of inputs per unit land area. This undoubtedly increases the yields of food and fiber per acre as compared to traditional farming methods.
Intensive farming techniques
Intensive farming techniques might be different depending on the type of farming but one common denominator is the innovation. These listed techniques relate to crop cultivation
- Deep soil preparation achieved by double digging to properly loosen the soil. This allows deep root penetration and improves the soil drainage.
- Use of organic compost which is very vital in improving the soil structure. Besides other numerous, benefits of this technique, compost will provide nutrients as well as make nutrients already in the soil more available to plants.
- Synergistic planting of crop combinations also known as companion planting and crop rotation
- Reasonable close planting which ensures more plants are accommodated in a smaller area. This is actually made possible by double digging and use of compost.
- Use of open pollinated seeds ensures that varieties are preserved for future generations. This technique saves cost and reduce reliance on outside growers.
- A whole interrelated and integrated farming system
‘Give back to the soil as much as you have taken – and a little bit more – and nature will provide for you abundantly’.