Quiz 23: Issues in Animal Agriculture
Beginning 2011 the population of earth was estimated 7 billion. By 2050, the population will increase to 9 billion adding the population equivalent to one and half times that of China's population to the world population total. Production of food, processing and infrastructure capacity to feed 9 billion people in the next 4 decades is a question at present. But substantial reasons are there to suggest the feat can be accomplished. The population growth is slowing and global population growth rates after 40 years is expected to be only 30% when compared to the 80% rate of expansion in the past 40 years from 1970 to 2010. The agricultural yields increased the rate of productivity to be sufficient to hold the global hunger crisis at bay. Still the ability to sustain raising yield rates and opportunities to increase food production with narrow gap between low yield producer and high production rate is a concern. The intensification of food production along with precision irrigation system, increased housing system for livestock and poultry accompanied with improved nutritional management, genetic selection and health management can be achieved by potential animal and plant breeding technology and production systems. About 33.5% of calories produced from agricultural system do not reach humans due to losses from pests, spoilage and waste. If half of this loss would be prevented it would increase the food availability by 15 - 25%. Avoiding losses depends on enhanced production management, improved storage facilities, handling and transportation of raw and finished product, changes in packaging, consumer behavior and regulations preventing the minimal out of date food reaching the hungry people. To reach the goal of feeding 9 billion people by 2050 will not be without controversy. Decision making should involve the choices that require the trade offs. Careful analysis of issues in agriculture, good decision making to define the problem and alternate solutions considering both the intended and unintended consequences, rational assessment of cost benefit relationships are utmost important things to be considered. The best decisions make out or the site and situation specific and should be based on good information and aligned with core values of people involved.
Decision making should involve the choices that require the trade offs. Careful analysis of issues in agriculture, good decision making to define the problem and alternate solutions considering both the intended and unintended consequences, rational assessment of cost benefit relationships are utmost important things to be considered. The best decisions make out or the site and situation specific and should be based on good information and aligned with core values of people involved. Several problems are posed by polarities or competing interests. Livestock systems managers need to deal with the host of polarities. For example, attaining the profits involves a large enterprise that sufficiently captures economies of its size and scale. When the more animals are added to the enterprise, waste production is increased. If the waste management is not solved efficiently then it may lead to decline in animal health as well as productive capacity of natural resource base. Therefore, the long term profits depends both on the productive capacity and as well as the careful management systems that impact on natural resources.
Sustainability is defined as a method of harvesting or using the resource without its depletion or causing a permanent damage to it. But it fails to consider the dynamics and polarities such as economy and culture. Other factors like meeting the ecosystem performance metrics and management are also considered. Assessment of viability, good decision making, continuity of succession to generate storable product should be accompanied with the sustainability. It is complex to make effective decisions regarding natural resources and therefore a useful model called triple bottom line approach to sustainability has been emerged. The triple bottom line of sustainability depends on importance given to ecosystems, economies and communities. Sustainability is not simple but is a commitment involving balancing decisions to protect the resources more sustainable.
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