The growing global population has driven up the need for food. However, this poses to be a challenge due to depletion of natural resources such as soil nutrient stocks, as well as adverse climate changes being experienced worldwide. A recent report found that nearly 8.9 % of the world population is in dire need of food. FAO in a 2008 report attributed chronic hunger increase to low production of staple food such as cereals creating a food insecurity challenge. And this condition will only worsen as the demand for food is predicted to increase by 70 % by 2050 to feed 9 billion more people.
A commonly asked question is, what is food security and why is it important? Food security is defined as the ability of all people to have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food on a day-to-day basis. The three elements that constitute to food security are: food availability, food access and food use. Availability refers to enough food availed constantly at a national and most importantly at a household scale. Access refers to ability of people to acquire food on a sustainable basis. Food use refers to people having basic knowledge of nutrition as well as access to water and sanitation.
A report by FAO, 2004, pinpoints to agriculture being key to food security in most parts of the world. By increasing agricultural production in developing countries, poverty will be alleviated as food prices will reduce significantly, employment will be created, farm income will increase, and daily wages will increase as well. Agriculture should thus be the focal point of policy approaches towards achieving food security and for economic growth, especially in developing countries.
It is reported that majority of the people in the rural areas have access to land but lack necessary skills and resources to farm sustainably. A comprehensive approach of equipping smallholder farmers with knowledge and skills to grow their own food. This will in turn contribute directly to these households’ food security by providing nourishment, but also generate income that can be directed to meet other needs.
Climate change has brought about negative impacts such as increasing temperatures, inconsistent and extreme weather patterns, shifting of agroecosystems boundaries and invasive crops and pests (such as striga weed and locust invasion). Soil nutrient stocks depletion have contributed to low crop yields for example, in Kenya, maize yields are reported at less than 1 t/ha from the expected 6 t/ha.
Here at UjuziKilimo, we focus on equipping smallholder farmers with the necessary skills and accurate information to increase their crop production sustainably. The advance in technology enables us to support farmers in real time by offering them soil tests, fertilizer recommendations and overall agronomical support at prices that are affordable. We aim to empower farmers to make farming ventures profitable and sustainable using climate smart agricultural techniques. And with this, we will be making a step towards achieving food security.
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Article by: Bernice Limo, Digital Agronomist at UjuziKilimo, an Agritech company using technology to help the world's small holder farmers practice precision farming and improve productivity.