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Local food supply could help propel global food security

9/4/2014 - Local or regional food supply could help ensure food security across continents, a new study conducted by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) says. It explores under which conditions a shift to local food supply may result in food self-sufficiency. The researchers found that by increasing crop yield in a number of ways, every continent could become food self-sufficient by 2050. This could substantially diminish the current demand for international agricultural trade, although it will continue to be relevant to some regions. The study is the first of its kind to demonstrate that actions at a local level could help achieve food self-sufficiency in many regions.
Local food supply could help propel global food security

Local and regional food supply could help ensure global food security, says new PIK study. Photo: Thinkstock

“One of the novel ideas we've incorporated in our study is that we mapped out our results on a broad spatial scale, ranging from the municipal level up to the global level," says lead author Prajal Pradhan. “We have identified the lowest possible administrative level on which a region could achieve food self-sufficiency.” Aside from the basic food calorie consumption, the study also analyzes how other factors could affect the projections, such as changes in dietary composition as well as the effects of climate change and urbanization.

The study suggests that both reducing food waste and closing crop yield gaps could increase the total number of food self-sufficient people on all levels worldwide. However, increasing crop yield output may also be impractical in some regions due to local limitations of resources such as water and the subsequent need for cropland expansion.

"This leads to the questions: How can crop yields in those regions be increased in a more sustainable manner and how can consumers be encouraged to engage in more sustainable consumption patterns?" says Jürgen Kropp, deputy chair of PIK research domain Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities. "These issues require further research but this study sheds light on which measures may be necessary to eventually achieve global food security. Combining this with other previous work, we can now provide a regionalized and consumption-based emission projection for the food sector."

 

Article: Pradhan, P., Lüdeke, M. K. B., Reusser, D. E., & Kropp, J. P. (2014). Food self-sufficiency across scales: How local can we go? Environmental Science and Technology, 48(16), 9463-9470 [DOI: 10.1021/es5005939].

Weblink to the article: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es5005939

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