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Sustainable Food Notes

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G4: GEOGRAPHY REVISION Theme 1: Sustainable Food Supply What is the global pattern of food consumption?

925 million undernourished people

1 in 7 don't get enough food to be healthy
 Under-nourishment: status of people whose food intake doesn't include enough calories to meet minimum physiological needs for an active life
 Malnutrition: 'badly nourished'

Characterised by inadequate intake of protein, carbohydrates and micronutrients and by frequent infections and diseases

Measured by physical measurements of the body; weight, height and age

Starved of the right nutrition, people will die from infections

On average, our bodies need more than 2,100 calories a day

Each year, almost 11 million children die before reaching the age of five; malnutrition is associated with 53% of these deaths Where does it happen?

Most of the world's hungry live in developing countries  98% of the 925 million people suffering from Hunger are from LEDC's.
- 578 million in Asia and the Pacific
- 239 million in Sub-Saharan Africa
- 53 million in Latin America and the Caribbean
- 37 million in the Near East and North Africa
- 19 million in developed countries
¾ of undernourished people live in low-income rural areas of developing countries 75% of people in LEDC's are undernourished, ½ of which are farmers

Causes of hunger

- Drought = most common cause of hunger
- Recurrent drought in 2006 caused crop failures and heavy livestock loses in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya
- Natural disasters
- Climate change


Short and long-term food crises caused by humans has risen from 15% to more than 35% 
Triggered by conflicts Fighting displaces millions of people from their homes, leading to some of the world's worst hunger emergencies In war, food sometimes becomes a weapon


Soldiers will starve opponents into submission by seizing or destroying food and livestock and systematically wrecking local markets Fields and water wells are often mined or contaminated, forcing farmers to abandon their land When conflict threw Central Africa into confusion in the 1990s, the proportion of hungry people rose by 5%

Poverty Trap
- LEDC farmers can't afford seed to plant the crops
- Others have no land, water or education to lay the foundations for a secure future
- The poverty-stricken do not have enough money to buy or produce enough food for themselves and their families
- Tend to be weaker and cannot produce enough to buy more food
= The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty

Agricultural Infrastructure
- LEDC's lack key agricultural infrastructure, such as enough roads, warehouses and irrigation = are high transport costs, lack of storage facilities and unreliable water supplies
- All conspire to limit agricultural yields and access to food
- Although the majority of developing countries depend on agriculture, their governments economic planning often emphasises urban development e.g. Ethiopia

Over-exploitation Environment
- Poor farming practices, deforestation, over cropping and overgrazing are exhausting the Earth's fertility and spreading the roots of hunger
- The world's fertile farmland is under threat from erosion, salination and desertification

Global Food Distribution

There is enough food to feed everyone- it's just in the wrong places

Food is concentrated in developed world

Overproduction in MEDCs = surplus and waste

European Common Agricultural Policy

EU policy


Subsidises farmers to give them stable price for their products


Has artificially raised prices above market value

= farmers no longer respond to market and produce more than the market requires Millennium Development Goal
 To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Three sub-aims:
 Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day
 Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all

 Halve the proportion of people who suffer hunger

Has it been achieved?

Declining hunger figures


But at very slow pace


Progression stalled from 2000-2002


Between 1990 and 2008, proportion of underweight children under five has declined from 31% to 26% in NICs


Progression NOT fast enough to reach targets

Information from the Resource Booklet

America, Canada and Western Europe have excessive intake Sub-Saharan Africa below healthy calorie intake (Healthy = 2,100) Similarities between calorie and energy consumption

What factors promote or hinder food production?
Ethiopia - Background

Ethiopia is located in the horn of Africa

Borders 6 countries, including Sudan, Kenya and Somalia

Highland complex of mountains and dissected plateaus divided by the Great Rift Valley

Ethiopia - Problems and Impacts Physical

Numerous issues regarding successful and effective food production and transportation

The tropical monsoon climate with hot days and cool nights makes farming more challenging as farmers need to have knowledge of suitable crops/yields to survive in these conditions

Ethiopia is divided by the Rift valley where the high plateau offers cooler conditions

Lowland areas the Sahel homes an arid landscape

The dry Sahel climate promotes desertification = preventing land from being farmed

Problems such as dangerous sandstorms and bush fires

The loss of topsoil by wind erosion and water erosion has resulted in a great and continuous loss of soil fertility

Running rivers brown (making access to clean water even more difficult)
 Only 11% of the land is arable and the country has an exceeded carrying capacity which has caused the cycle of agricultural output to decline
 Less than half of the country is suitable for farming
 The average family can only feed itself for 5 months of the year providing the expected rainfall comes


Still in the first stages of development

75% of the population rely heavily upon their own agriculture

Droughts have destroyed many harvests and have seen the country desperate for food aid

12 million people need and rely on aid reaching them to survive

Aid comes with 'strings attached'

Aid requirements have led to the growth of more export crops which have dominated the production of basic foods

85% of Ethiopia's produce is exported as their governments continue to believe that the solution to hunger comes from economic prosperity

Subsistence farmers have been pushed into poor marginal land as commercial farming 'requires' the most productive areas
 Ethiopia's industrial growth decline by 7%

 Prevented the 45% of the population of whom are below the poverty line deduct themselves from the hunger cycle
 Ethiopia is held back by a debt of 160% of their gross national income Technological

The physical environment has prevented the significant technological development that Ethiopia needs

Desertification means that the albedo landscape reflects much of the suns radiation back into the atmosphere which has an adverse impact on agricultural output

Overgrazing of the land and little water supply obviously prevent effective food production

Has continued for years due to lack of knowledge and understanding

The lack of transport and infrastructure

Prohibits movements of grain


Gives relief aid challenges in supplying provided supplies to areas which need it most


Arguable what is holding the country back in tackling food supply problems

1970s and 80s- leader Mengestu (Marxist) enforced his programme for rural reform

The programme destabilised local food security

Made peasants much more vulnerable to drought

War with Eritrea continued throughout Ethiopia's famine in the 80s

Government kept funding by spending money on armament

The war and Marxist politics

Threatened the supply of aid WHY? Many Western countries were still adamant to support a Communist government, particularly as the Cold War was only just simmering down

A further issue of aid that it only brought a short term fix to Ethiopia's continuous food supply issues

Food aid may have also encouraged dependency


It prevented the improvement of subsistence farming (farming that provides for the basic needs of the farmer without surpluses for marketing)


High FR: on average women have 7 children each of child bearing age

Natural increase of 1.96%

Population has doubled in 25 years, reaching 60 million

Low population density- majority of people live spread out in very rural areas

Population too high for agriculture to sustain

Shown through the average calorie intake of 1,845


Compared to that of a Western diet which reaches 3,400

High rates of malnutrition swarm Ethiopia causes thousands of premature deaths

Parents go without food to ensure their children can eat
 This has seen the rate of orphaned children rise to 13% and as the adults become progressively weaker from lack of nutrition, their farming ability declines dramatically

Religious believes hold back the population from having the vision that food supply issues can be solved

During the famine in the 80s, people believed that the lack of food was Gods punishment and they blamed themselves for all of the suffering

Ethiopia - Solutions Physical

To solve soil erosion issues, farmland should be terraced and trees planted

Easily done by the individual

Low costing solution

Should have long lasting impacts

River filters could be introduced to reduce the silt transportation

Provide safer and cleaner water for many more people


High cost

Create areas with high soil fertility

High benefit

To get the most out of their natural environment, Ethiopians should utilise Lake Tana, a huge water store in the North of the country


Improve infrastructure

Building roads and vehicles
 Ensure that transportation of food is much more successful

Improvement of storage techniques


In good harvest years the surplus produce could be stored rather than wasted

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