Despite the Green Revolution, solving the challenge of producing enough food is more important than ever for human beings. In their study, Horlings and Marsden states that the limited ecological dying used in modern agriculture may reduce environmental effects to some extent. But they also cause new negative side effects and ignore some of the elements influencing this challenge. They seek to answer the question of how different aspects influence the process of real ecological modernization, such as social, cultural, spatial, and political aspects. The main question is: Is there evidence in practice that agroecological approaches can help future demand for food production, especially in developing countries? The answer is yes, but this requires a more radical move towards a new type of agricultural-food economy applicable on a regional scale. The measures required in this regard include reviewing market mechanisms and related organizations and fundamental changes in agricultural contexts and will not be implemented without the active participation of farmers and consumers.
By 2050, the world will have a population of approximately 9 billion. Forecasts for food demand vary in the future, but even the most optimistic scenarios require at least a 50 % increase in food production. Food demand in the coming decades will not only grow and change as a result of population growth but also because unequal economic growth increases consumer purchasing power, especially for the purchase of meat. The growing urbanization encourages people to adopt new diets and threatens both land and water resources. The conventional approach to enhancing food supply, given its “success” in the not-too-distant past, is to suggest a vibrant rejuvenation in the industrial model. The agricultural-industrial model, which emerged in the 1960s, is known as the neoliberal logic that links agricultural farms and foods to industrial/biological dynamics. This leads to the expansion of agricultural production and continuing production per hectare, especially in exporting countries, through the continuation of general technical progress. The concept of the real Green Revolution came up with an approach based on integrated environmental approaches. Agricultural ecologists also argue that in the industrial/biological model, the effects of this model on soil and water resources as well as the capacity of the agricultural ecosystem to produce the future need. These researchers have discussed a variety of principles and functions of more sustainable and organic forms of agriculture as an alternative to the industrial/biological model. Agricultural ecology literature describes a wide range of agroecological practices labeled with various terms such as low-input farming, agro-forestry systems, multi- and intercropping farming, poly-cultures, natural systems agriculture, organic production, and so on. For this reason, the dimensions and parameters of an agricultural renovation along with environmental sustainability that can meet future demand for food production is our main theme. This has two theoretical and empirical dimensions.
The new food challenge:
The food challenge can be understood within the concept of food regime. The concept of “food regime” was first introduced by Friedman (1987) and then presented as a regular formula by Friedman and McMichael. Friedman’s basic concept of the regime is a “rule-governed structure of production and consumption of food on a world scale”. The global food regime has created economic complexities, especially in developing countries. Creating intellectual property rights has become an important source for competitive advantage and accumulation in the production and trade of agricultural goods. The progressive expansion of corporate industrial relations in agriculture has put more pressure on many small -scale farmers in developing countries. They also have to deal with direct competition by manufacturing systems that are highly subsidized and capitalist and thus are able to produce commodities that can be sold cheaper.
In addition to population growth, several international trends have influenced the deviation of land use and production patterns and have had negative effects, especially in developing countries. The boom in commodities and rising prices in 2008 dramatically increased international interest in agricultural land as a potential investment. Investors expressed interest in 42 million hectares of agricultural land worldwide in less than a year, according to press reports. Of these, more than 75 percent (32 million hectares) were in southern Sahara Africa. Transferring land to countries such as China and Korea can lead to violations of local rights. Increased production and consumption of meat on a global scale also affect the use of land. Competition is increasing globally to provide livestock protein feed. Meat production is not only one of the factors of greenhouse gas emissions, but it also requires 80 % of agricultural land, while only 15 % of the total food basket. Some believe that demand for livestock products will double by 2050. Currently, more than one-third of the world’s grains reach domestic cattle and reach 70 % in industrialized countries. These macro-production and consumption trends have now led to wider concerns about resource decline, on the one hand, and the effects of related climate change on the other. Food production is currently in 40 % of the total area of the land, however, 90 % of farms worldwide are less than 2 hectares. Most small fields are less than two hectares in Asia (87%) and then Africa (8%), Europe (4%), and the US (1%). Although agricultural inputs and outputs make up the major part of the world trade, most foods are still consumed near their production site.
The average food share in the world
Although today every person has 25% more food compared to 1960 (the beginning of the Green Revolution) and the volume of agricultural production has increased dramatically, such figures do not show some facts, Including the difference between distribution in different areas within these figures is hidden. However, in the past 40 years, per capita, food production in the world has grown by 17 %, and the average per capita consumption in 2003 was 2780 kcal per day. On the other hand, consumption in 33 countries is still less than 2200 kcal a day. It has been argued that agriculture can meet the growing demand because it is expected to increase production capacity (both volume and area) in the future. FAO’s forecasts for the 1999-2030 period estimate global agricultural production to 56 %, with the expansion of cultivable land, and21 % of production growth in developing countries. However, such an increase requires high inputs of sources (such as water) that are likely to be scarce. Food supply will also be under pressure as a result of increasing demand for agricultural raw materials and biological fuels, which has increased global food prices. Cereal production is currently 2.7 times the amount produced 50 years ago, but much of these plant materials are eliminated for livestock feed and the growing amount of biological fuel. All of this, and most, determines that the current food-agricultural system does not have the efficiency needed to achieve the goal in the future. It also brings the environmental negative effects to the environment and in the future, it will have a booming effect on food production.
To improve this system in recent decades, a common but weak form of ecological modernization on the dominant food regime has been formed. This “biological-economic” model focuses on agricultural development in the form of integrated farm techniques, information technology applications, product technical improvement, genetic modification and sustainable “agricultural parks” design. Poor forms of ecological modernization may lead to reduced environmental problems but also have negative side effects. These effects, at best, underestimate the social, cultural, political, and much more diverse and more diverse agricultural dimensions in the poor ecological modernization project. Politically, for example, in agriculture, the “method of health regulations” has dominated food production in agriculture in the form of bureaucratic forms and environmental protection tools. Private and public forms of regulations have led to planning that creates new regulatory barriers to market entry for many smaller manufacturers and processors. The farms (and farmers) have taken over the heavy burden of this scientific risk management strategy. Therefore, obviously, in order to produce the amount of food needed in the future, we need a stronger form of environmental renewal to make the real green revolution. In this regard, it is necessary for strong Agri-Food networks to consider different dimensions, such as Economical ( Agri-food networks, Value-adding at farm level), Technological (Technological generation as a demand-driven process and spatially sensitive), Ecological (Based on agroecological principles, flexible and adaptive to ecologies and places), Social-cultural ( Demand-driven research, Autonomy), Spatial (Locally embedded in the community, Use of local resources ), and Political ( Influence of communities in agri-food networks, Local and regional institutional actors ) to be formed. It is also important to determine and resolve the barriers to the formation and development of such networks, especially by governments, by maintaining more appropriate and dynamic surveillance systems as well as appropriate policies.
The last word
Agro-ecological approaches could help to ‘feed the world’ sustainably, and thereby contribute to a ‘real green revolution’; but this requires a more radical move and debate among scientists about fostering a new type of (multi-scalar) agri-food eco economy. This is one that includes re-thinking market mechanisms and organizations and more innovative institutional flexibility at different spatial scales, interwoven with active farmers and consumer’s participation. This should be combined with a redirection of science investments to take account of translating often isolated cases of good practice into mainstream agrifood movements.
For a more detailed study, you can refer to the article “Towards the real green revolution? Exploring the conceptual dimensions of a new ecological modernization of agriculture that could feed the world” written by Horlings and Marsden.