via HinduBusinessLine: ‘Agriculture dependent population in India grew by 50% during 1980-2011’’

‘Agriculture dependent population in India grew by 50% during 1980-2011’’

According to a report of the Worldwatch Institute, the economically active agricultural populations of China and India grew by 33 and 50 per cent respectively due to overall population growth.
According to a report of the Worldwatch Institute, the economically active agricultural populations of China and India grew by 33 and 50 per cent respectively due to overall population growth.

The agricultural population of India grew by a whopping 50 per cent between 1980 and 2011, the highest for any country during this period, followed by China with 33 per cent, while that of the US dropped by 37 per cent as a result of large-scale mechanisation, a latest report has said.

“Between 1980 and 2011, the economically active agricultural populations of China and India grew by 33 and 50 per cent respectively due to overall population growth,” the Worldwatch Institute said in a report.

“The economically active agricultural population of the US, on the other hand, declined by 37 per cent as a result of large-scale mechanisation, improved crop varieties, fertilisers, pesticides, and federal subsidies —all of which contributed to economies of scale and consolidation in US agriculture,” it said.

The global agricultural population — defined as individuals dependent on agriculture, hunting, fishing, and forestry for their livelihood — accounted for over 37 per cent of the world’s population in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available.

This is a decrease of 12 per cent from 1980, when the world’s agricultural and non-agricultural populations were roughly the same size.

Although the agricultural population shrank as a share of the total population between 1980 and 2011, it grew numerically from 2.2 billion to 2.6 billion people during this period, writes Worldwatch Senior Fellow Sophie Wenzlau in the Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online trend.

According to the report, between 1980 and 2011, Africa’s agricultural population grew by 63 per cent, and its non-agricultural population grew by 221 per cent.

Oceania’s agricultural population grew by 49 per cent, and its non-agricultural population grew by 65 per cent.

Asia’s agricultural population grew by 20 per cent, and its non-agricultural population grew by 134 per cent, it said.

The combination of movement to cities and agricultural consolidation caused agricultural populations to decline in Europe and the Americas between 1980 and 2011: by 66 per cent in Europe, 45 per cent in North America, 35 per cent in South America, 13 per cent in Central America, and 7 per cent in the Caribbean, the report added.

(This article was published on February 27, 2014)

via NPR: The Katydid Dilemma: Will You Eat Insects?

Could this be the onset of the Fourth AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION? One thing is for sure, it would have made ESTER BOSERUP smile.

-Human Imprint


Reblog via NPR

The Katydid Dilemma: Will You Eat Insects?


January 17, 201411:13 AM

Insect candy given out as part of a promotion in London last year.

It’s right there on the dinner menu at Oyamel (a Washington, D.C., restaurant), listed under the “authentic Mexican tacos” section:


The legendary Oaxacan specialty of sauteed grasshoppers, shallots, tequila and guacamole.


Whether it’s sauteed grasshoppers at Oyamel or katydid grilled cheese sandwiches prepared for the annual Bug Fair at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, insects are the new darlings of the avant-garde food world. At least that’s the message in the chapter called “Grub” from Dana Goodyear’s book Anything that Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture.

Which animals we eat, and which we revile and reject, fascinates me. It’s in this context that I’m beginning to explore entomophagy.

Goodyear notes that 80 percent of the species alive on Earth today are insects, but only select species are consumed. Marc Dennis, writing on the Insects Are Food website, is more specific:

“There are an estimated 1,462 recorded species of edible insects and in all likelihood hundreds if not thousands more that simply haven’t been sampled or perhaps not even discovered yet.”

If, as Goodyear describes, insect-eating is seen as a cutting-edge culinary adventure in the U.S., it’s an everyday thing in other parts of the world. Brittany Fallon, my former student at the College of William and Mary, now conducting doctoral research in Uganda on the behavior of wild chimpanzees, stressed for me in an email message how selective villagers are about what insects they eat, and how detailed their knowledge is of insect behavior:

“There are ‘white ants’ which come in March after a big rain between 4/5 AM. Then there are ‘big ants’ which come in May, and emerge from the mounds at 1 AM. Finally, there are ‘bimumu’ the August ants, which come between 5-6 PM. Ants can be prepared in several ways: pan-fried with a bit of oil and spices, boiled into a kind of soup, and third, made into a sort of ‘bread’ of ground ant patties which are first boiled while wrapped in banana leaves, and then pan-fried. I’ve eaten the fried ants – yummy, no particular taste I can remember other than crunchy and oily, like popcorn – and also the ant bread, which tasted exactly like a McDonald’s sausage patty (not so yummy, to a longtime vegetarian).”

Here at home, will insect-eating really catch on? I wonder about the squeamish-palate factor, and about the ethics of eating insects versus other animals. Clearly, as Marc Dennis notes, insects pack a nutritional punch:

“According to the Entomological Society of America they generally contain more protein and are lower in fat than traditional meats. In addition they have about 20 times higher food conversion efficiency than traditional meats. In other words they have a better feed-to-meat ratio than beef, pork, lamb or chicken, not to mention other less traditional meats such as goat, horse, buffalo, ostrich and alligator.”

So, because I’m curious, questions for my readers:

If you’re vegetarian, would you consider supplementing your intake of protein by way of entomophagy?

If you eat meat, would you consider sometimes substituting insects for other animals?

The real solution to South Africa’s food problem – Opinion – Al Jazeera English

The real solution to South Africa's food problem - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

As South Africa has grown more urban, so have poverty and hunger migrated to its cities. While the government of South Africa sees increasing penetration of supermarkets into poorer neighbourhoods as a way to encourage economic development and increase access to food, this strategy is inherently limited.

In South Africa, urbanisation has contributed to a rapid increase in poverty and a rising population of urbanites who are undernourished. Sixty percent of South Africa’s population is now urbanised, and this figure is projected to reach 80 percent by 2050. In Cape Town, a 2011 survey found that over 80 percent of households were either moderately or severely food insecure in sampled low income neighbourhoods. In addition to overall caloric food insecurity, households were found to have limited dietary diversity.

There is a deep rift in the international food policy community about the role of supermarkets in addressing urban hunger. One group sees “food deserts,” or the lack of food retailers in poorer neighbourhoods, as the primary driver of hunger and malnutrition in urban areas. Another group views the growing spread of large supermarkets in cities of the Global South with suspicion. Their primary concern is that large food retailers will displace smaller, traditional shops that better cater to the needs of the poor.

There is a parallel set of arguments in the South African policy realm which are couched in terms of economics rather than food security. Here the government implicitly assumes that the establishment of shopping malls, and associated supermarkets, in low income areas will help facilitate economic development. While food access is not explicitly considered, it is believed that supermarkets bring more efficient, cost effective and safer food to poor areas. This argument contrasts with that of those (mostly outside of government) who are concerned that the spread of big stores, including supermarkets, may lead to loss of livelihoods among small traders.

The real solution to South Africa’s urban food insecurity problem is poverty alleviation.

Our research revealed that neither perspective is entirely right nor wrong. In 2012-2013, we compiled one of the first, and the most complete, spatial databases of supermarket locations relative to population distribution in the Cape Town metropolitan area of South Africa.

We found that supermarket density is 16 times higher in upper middle income neighbourhoods than in the poorest areas – and that the difference was even more startling if one compares the ratio of households per supermarket in a given area. That said, supermarket penetration into Cape Town’s poorest townships has deepened, and one retailer has even developed a specific brand and format (Shoprite’s Usave) to reach poorer customers.

The problem is that the supermarket model, even if it is further modified, may never really be able to reach the poorest of the poor. Such households often have irregular cash flows, meaning that they must purchase food in small quantities or buy items on credit when there is no money to be had. While small shops can meet such demands, supermarkets cannot. Furthermore, and somewhat surprisingly, we found that small shops were not charging more for the food they sold than the big retailers (even though the items they sold came in much smaller quantities).

Our research also suggests that those concerned about supermarket expansion should temper their fire. The township customers we interviewed prefer shopping in supermarkets when it is an option because they perceive the quality of goods sold there to be higher.

The small shops and meat stands located in adjacent areas also do not perceive the supermarket as competition. In fact, they see themselves as offering complementary services, almost working in tandem with supermarkets to meet a broad range of consumer needs. To be fair, however, these are the perceptions of those small traders who have survived and adapted. Other studies suggest that there has been an attrition of such small shops and stalls after big stores arrive.

The take-home message is that supermarket expansion is neither a solution to, nor a curse on, hunger alleviation efforts in urban South Africa and the region more broadly. This market-oriented solution to improving urban food access is inherently limited because it just cannot meet the needs of the poorest of the poor.

The real problems are structural in nature and are a legacy of the Apartheid era. Black South Africans continue to face significantly higher levels of unemployment than their white counterparts, and the geography of urban poverty has remained amazingly rigid. The real solution to South Africa’s urban food insecurity problem is poverty alleviation.

Poverty alleviation, however, must not solely be conceived in monetary terms. It must also be considered in terms of greater spatial equity and access to affordable healthy food. Urban food security must become an explicit policy objective of its own, rather than one embedded in an economic growth agenda.

William G. Moseley is Professor, Chair of Geography, and Director of African Studies at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, US. His latest book is An Introduction to Human-Environment Geography: Local Dynamics and Global Processes.

via The real solution to South Africa’s food problem – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

Low-Water Lunch: A Chinese Breakthrough on Irrigation? | @pritheworld

Esther Boserup would be proud! It looks as though the Chinese have created a new irrigation system that allows plants to use water only as it needs-creating a more sustainable agricultural method to support it’s exploding population.

Take that Malthus.

Low-Water Lunch: A Chinese Breakthrough on Irrigation? | @pritheworld.

Agronomist Kim Ji-Seok points to soil with trace irrigation that is moist, but not wet. (Photo: Mary Kay Magistad)
Agronomist Kim Ji-Seok points to soil with trace irrigation that is moist, but not wet. (Photo: Mary Kay Magistad)

Desert Lunch: Coaxing Climate-Friendly Food from the World’s Driest Places | @pritheworld

Human Geography Topics:

  • Thomas Malthus
  • Ester Boserup
  • Agriculture
  • Commercial Gardening
  • Horticulture
  • Sustainable Agriculture


THOMAS MALTHUS would be shocked, ESTHER BOSERUP gleaning, “I told you so.” If you ever wondered what you could do with your degree in physics, agriculture, architecture, engineering, or environmental sciences, how about solving a food crisis in an area of the World that does not easily grow food.  For countries with growing populations and an environment that is not AGRICULTURE friendly, importing food is costly. So some scientists took on the challenge to build a test facility in Qatar. Why Qatar? One scientist says,

“We started with a thought, and that was, let’s take what we have enough of, like seawater, like sunlight, like sand, like CO2, to produce what we need more of—food, water, energy—in an environmentally friendly way.”

Another scientist answers how the project plans on providing SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE for the region.

The pilot facility is the first experiment in integrating technologies to produce food, fresh water and clean energy in deserts using seawater. “And if you look at the crises the world is facing, we need all of those things really badly,” Corless says.

An artist’s rendering shows a full-scale commercial facility. The project’s designers say the concept should work in any low-altitude desert area near a large source of salt water. Graphic provided by Sahara Forest Project.

With a team of engineers, scientists, and agriculturalists, the team is creating an alternative  HORTICULTURE system, one that adapts to the region.  While massive greenhouse projects such as this one are expensive, Qatar’s oil wealth give it the financial backing that it needs. Hopefully, this form of COMMERCIAL GARDENING can become a sustainable solution to the World’s food crisis.

Click below to read the full story!

Desert Lunch: Coaxing Climate-Friendly Food from the World’s Driest Places | @pritheworld.

Click below to listen to the story!