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Every year, Sub-Saharan Africa is the scene of a meningitis epidemic which hits tens of thousands of people. The geographical zone stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia is known as the “meningitis belt”. For many years the region has been under the scrutiny of scientists aiming to unravel the ...
Michel Griffon, agronomist and economist, Deputy Director General of the French National Research Agency (ANR), goes over the causes of the food crisis. He suggests a set of measures to meet the food security challenges and gives a broad outline of the types of agriculture that should be made priorities in the developing countries.
The current food crisis is the expression of a maladjustment between supply and demand seen in trends operating at global and regional scales. It is illustrated by a
60% increase in the FAO food price index over just one year and a strong upsurge in the price of cereals and dairy products. Current prices show in part the impact of speculation, probably fuelled by cash investments reoriented from a difficult property sector. However, they also reflect some deeply serious trends: population pressure and accelerating urbanization; growth of the emergent countries and strong surge in demand from middle classes, cost increases linked to the oil crisis, competition from biofuels, climatic hazards (Australian cereal production has for example collapsed after six consecutive years of drought) and, over the longer term, the still uncertain impact of global warming on agricultural production, which the journal Science reviews in its February issue.
Irrigated agriculture makes a substantial contribution to the food security of many countries. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) figures indicate that irrigation involves just under 20% of cultivated land and supplies 40% of world agricultural production. An estimated ...