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Urbanisation and the Global Food Crisis

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Charlie Dubois

on 6 September 2013

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Transcript of Urbanisation and the Global Food Crisis

Urbanisation and the Global Food Crisis - By Charlie Dubois
design by Dóri Sirály for Prezi
We know that urbanisation is having a very large negative effect on food production. What we don't really understand is why it is doing this. There are many factors that could be causing the large impact.

They include overpopulation, population density, poor land management and the ever increasing urban sprawl in our cities. During this presentation the following questions will be answered along with their relationships with Catholic Social Teachings........

'How are overpopulation, urbanisation and poor land management affecting food production and distribution?'

'In what countries is urban sprawl most affecting food production?'

And, 'What can be done to stop the urban sprawl?'
How are overpopulation, urbanisation and poor land management affecting food production and distribution?
Overpopulation is affecting food production and distribution in very different ways. It is causing food production to be more profitable than ever because food is cheaper than ever to buy and there is a large demand for food. With food distribution on the other hand, the poor go hungry because food is still too expensive for them to buy. Why should they miss out when they are the most vulnerable in our society.

Urbanisation is causing problems for both the production and distribution of food. It is causing the production of food to be moved further and further away from large cities. This is then affecting the distribution of food by pushing up prices due to high transport costs. Some countries barely grow any of their own food and import it from overseas, further inflating the price of basic foods. For instance, if we bought an orange in Adelaide that was grown in China it would have travelled over 9000 km.

Poor land management means that very little food in being produced in some places. This is once again affecting distribution because it is making food more expensive due to transportation costs as there has been no land set aside for farming.
Urban sprawl is affecting food production in many countries. Places such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangladesh import very high amounts of food. It is no coincidence that Singapore and Bangladesh are in the top ten most densely populated countries in the world (Hong Kong would be but it counts as China). Some of these countries could just become one big urban area in the not to distant future. They have less room to farm than almost all other countries and therefore do not even come close to being able to sustain themselves with the food they grow. These countries are almost completely reliant on imports.

Even places like Great Britain do not have enough food to sustain themselves. A recent study found that if all the food that Britain supplies itself with for a year was brought together and rationed out (meeting dietary requirements) from January 1st that the food would have ran out in mid-August. Britain now imports 38% of its food, up 13% from 1991. Some 89% of people now live in urban areas in Britain, taking up prime agriculture land and forcing them to import more and more food.

In South Korea they are trying to solve their lack of land by buying up land in other countries. Daewoo, a South Korean company, tried to lease half of Madagascar's arable land for 99 years, with the intention farming corn on it. The deal later fell through but it shows how desperate some countries are to solve there reliance on food importation. Some countries, including China, the USA and India have started buying up huge amounts of land in other countries to ensure their own food security. We in Australia do not have such problems as we have a small population density. We produce 237% of the calories it would take to feed our population per year and only import some luxury foods. e.g coffee, chocolate

As was stated before, most countries that import a lot of food also have very large population density, meaning that they have little room to grow food for a large population. Therefore it can be said that urbanisation is affecting the food production in land-poor nations with large populations, such as Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Singapore, South Korea, and to some extent Great Britain.
What can be done to stop urban sprawl?
There are many possible solutions for combating the ever increasing presence of urban sprawl in our cities. However, only two real solutions stand out as realistic when tasked with stopping urban sprawl. These are better planning and building upward. If we planned better and only built in infertile areas then we wouldn't be having the problems we face today. But the main solution is to not spread out, but to build up. We can't farm on air so it doesn't matter how high we go. It would be a large improvement for everyone because now we are just clearing land for new suburbs and the lack of land is forcing us to come up with more efficient ways to grow crops that cost more and more money. The more land we lose, the more efficient we will have to get. However, if we build up we would have a larger supply of food that is being grown locally. This would lead to lower prices for food. Cheaper food is good for everyone including the manufacturer because the demand would be there for them to make money. But it is especially good for the poor and vulnerable.
In what countries is urban sprawl most affecting food production?
Why is urbanisation having such a large negative effect on food production?
So, why is urbanisation having such a large negative impact on food production?
Catholic Social Teaching
When food is too expensive for people to buy this doesn't follow the 'Protecting Human Life and Dignity' teaching. Food is a basic need for life and this teaching calls for us to respect human life. It also doesn't help when food has to travel thousands of kilometres to get to countries who can't grow their own food. This presents a further problem because if the GFC gets worse the 'Solidarity' teaching could be in jeopardy. If the exporting countries start running out of food, then they most likely won't keep exporting, leaving the importing countries to starve.
In the case of countries buying up farming land in other countries, this is a serious breach of the CST of 'Solidarity' because these countries are putting they own food needs ahead of others. This has been demonstrated in the backlash over the sale of Cubbie Station. The Australian public was angry over the sale of our largest cotton producer to a Chinese consortium for food production. To some extent they are putting their food needs ahead of ours.
Catholic Social Teaching
Catholic Social
If we build up into the sky we would making a large improvement on our following of the 'Stewardship of Creation' and the 'Option for the Poor and Vulnerable' teachings. We would be following the 'Stewardship of Creation' because we would not be destroying any habitats and nothing grows in the air. The way we are developing our cities now is just destroying everything around us with our urban sprawl. The less land we have the more efficient we have to become with our food. This means more animals will be abused and more plants genetically modified to grow quicker. This could all stop if we just built upwards instead of outwards. It would also respect the 'Option for the Poor and Vulnerable' teaching because instead of highly urbanised nations importing all their food, they would now have the room to farm for themselves, to some extent. This would mean cheaper food for the poor who are starving in some of our largest cities.

Urbanisation is having such a large negative impact on food production because of a lack of arable land capable of farming crops on. The ever expanding cities are taking up arable land. For higher populations we need more food but we also need more land and at the moment we are only going for the land. This is forcing densely populated cities and countries to import food from far away which makes food more expensive, which puts the poor at risk. The only clear solution is to stop spreading out and to start building upwards. This will give us more farming land capable of feeding a large population for less because of lower transport costs. This is the only way to combat urban sprawl that is both realistic and long term.
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