Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP peopleandplanet.net
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Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP
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food and agriculture > factfile

Hunger: facts, prospects
Some 820 million in developing countries are undernourished, the FAO reported in 2006. This is 20 million more than in 1996 when governments pledged at a World Food Summit (WFS) to halve the number of hungry in the world by 2015. Worldwide the number of undernourished people totals 854 million, with 25 million in the transition countries and 9 million in the industrialized countries adding to the number in developing countries. ... more

Production: the trends
Annual growth of world agricultural output is expected to fall to 1.5 per cent over the next decades and further to 0.9 per cent in the succeeding 20 years to 2050, compared with 2.3 per cent per year since 1961, the FAO reports. ... more

Land and population
As world population and the global economy has grown, ever more land has been cleared, drained or irrigated to plant cash crops for export, such as sugar and palm oil, coffee and rubber, or to grow food crops for livestock. ... more

Farming and water
Over two-thirds of the freshwater used by humans each year is used for irrigating crops. In Africa, the river Nile loses 90 per cent of its water to irrigation and other uses before it reaches the Mediterranean. In Asia, which has two-thirds of the world�s irrigated land, 85 per cent of water goes for irrigation. The river Jordan is so heavily used by farmers that only a third of its water makes it as far as the Dead Sea. ... more

Farming and fertilisers
Artificial fertilisers have helped fuel the Green Revolution and increase food supplies. Global fertiliser use rose from 14 million tonnes in 1950 to 145 million tonnes by 1988. ... more

Soil erosion
The soil is among our most precious resources, yet we often take it for granted or destroy it by making it susceptible to soil erosion. In the Philippines, for example, 22 provinces had been reported to have "alarming" soil erosion rate. Among those that had been losing their topsoil were Cebu, Batangas, Marinduque, Ilocos Sur, and La Union. This means that 58 per cent of the country's total land area of 30 million hectares is susceptible to erosion. ... more

Desertification and degraded land
"Desertification is essentially about people. People cause degradation and they are the sufferers from it. Unsustainable land management practices caused by inadequate farming techniques or increasing population pressures fuel land degradation, especially in susceptible drylands." - Klaus Toepfer, Former Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme. ... more

Seed security
Seed security is a major issue, according to FAO, which points out that 1.5 billion people live on family farms that are still largely dependent on their own sources of seed, saving a portion of what they grow each year to sow the following season. ... more

Going organic
Concern about food safety and the damage caused by the use of agrochemicals has led to a dramatic increase in the amount of land devoted to organic farming. ... more

Conservation agriculture
Conservation agriculture aims to conserve, improve and make more efficient use of natural resources through integrated management of available soil, water and biological resources combined with external inputs. ... more

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