Sciences au sud - IRD periodical
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.
Kyoto protocol : Satellite land-use snapshot
To fulfil the country’s engagements made under the Kyoto Protocol, in 2007 France had to provide national land use statistics, with particular focus on forest cover. French Guiana is of prime significance in this respect, with its 8 million hectares of forest. The short operating time available precluded a complete ground-level survey, therefore the only feasible operational solution was to use satellite imagery. The land use mosaic produced by IRD’s Space unit gave the first recorded coverage of the whole surface of Guiana, showing the forest and the areas cleared for agriculture or goldpanning. The resulting map and the methodology applied by the unit “Espace et l’Inventaire forestier national” were presented at the conference of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held in December 2007 in Bali (Indonesia).