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Food Production and Poverty Essay

Most people live on just a few dollars a day. Whether you live in the wealthiest nations in the world or the poorest, you will see high levels of inequality. In a world of plenty, a huge number go hungry. Hunger is more than just the result of food production and meeting demands. The causes of hunger are related to the causes of poverty. One of the major causes of hunger is poverty itself. The Food and Agriculture Organization maintains that the world’s agriculture produces enough food to provide every person with at least 2,720 kilocalories every day for the world’s population (Eitzen, Zinn, Smith, 2011 pg.68). Problems of hunger, malnutrition and disease affect the poorest in society. Even though the world’s agriculture produces plenty of food, the food production is unevenly distributed, resulting in about 1 billion being malnourished which is 1 in six people, about one in every three of the world’s inhabitants being food insecure, and around 9 million people dying of malnutrition each year (Eitzen, Zinn, Smith, 2011 pg.68).

The poorest are also typically disregarded from society and have little representation or opinion in public and political debates, making it even harder to escape poverty. Food supplies are adequate, but people must have the resources to afford them. Because the poor cannot afford the available food, they go hungry. This is where the relationship between poverty and food production link together. Political and economic conditions that keep prices too high, make jobs difficult to obtain and poorly paid, and force too many people to compete for too few resources. The major problem with food shortages is not food production, although that’s exceedingly important, but the political economy of the world and of the individual nations. There are many inter-related issues causing hunger, which are related to economics and other factors that cause poverty.

They include land rights and ownership, diversion of land use to non-productive use, increasing emphasis on export-oriented agriculture, inefficient agricultural practices, war, famine, drought, over-fishing, poor crop yields, etc. (Eitzen, Zinn, Smith, 2011 pg.69). An example of non-productive use in farmland is using it to pasture cattle which is a tremendously wasteful use of land, water and energy but has a high demand for wealthy countries. A high percentage of agricultural land in the world is used to grow commodities such as cotton, sisal, tea, tobacco, sugar cane, and cocoa, items which are non-food products or contain very little nutrition (Shah, 2010). Grain is also another important food product which is used wasteful.

For example more than half the grain grown in the United States (requiring half the water used in the U.S.) is fed to livestock, grain that would feed far more people than would the livestock to which it is fed (Shah, 2010). Grain is also is used to biofuels rather than food production. The result in that is that the prices of grain increase, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) estimates that 30% of the increase in the prices of the major grains is due to biofuels (Shah, 2010). The increasing use of biofuels also plays a huge part in food production because it diverts land away from food production and is used to grow crops for fuel such as ethanol. Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75%, far more than previously estimated according to a World Bank report (Shah, 2010).

The relationship between food production and poverty are basically because people don’t have enough money to buy food and also be able to put a roof over their head. The cost of food has increased dramatically over the past years and continues to rise due but not limited to the examples stated to previously in this paper. When we think about earning a living which for most families is already below means compared to the cost of living we tend not to factor in food. More than one billion live off of less than $2.50 a day which usually needs to support your family and yourself. Food production may be threatened, but it is international trade, economic policies and the control of land that have led to enormous poverty/hunger issues therefore leading to less access and high prices for food.


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