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In the 0th century, now more than ever, technology has played an increasingly important role in improving the agricultural output throughout the world. Technological advancements in agriculture have become more significant, now more than ever, because of the food supply problems that are faced. In reality there is enough food to feed all the people in the world. Food production has more than doubled since the 150s. Yet despite this one in five people suffer from hunger. (fig 1)

food supply problems are described as being an instance when the amount of food produced does not meet the amount of food that a population requires. The outcome of this is that hunger occurs.

This essay will take into account why food supply problems actually do exist and what technology has contributed to us for easing these pressures. How has agriculture globally progressed over the last few decades. What present issues have risen from the use of new farming methods, both beneficial and detrimental; and what is the future or will inevitable shortages be faced. A range of locations and research approaches will be used to collate all available data and evidence to come up with a suitable conclusion to these questions.

In the developed world new agricultural methods have been useful in ensuring a comfortable food surplus being produced and the daily calorie intake of many western nations is well above the standard set by the World Health Organisation. However the story concerning the developing world is very different. Many LEDCs, especially those in Africa, such as Ethiopia and Sudan experience horrendous food shortages. This is not the only cause of famine however. As fig 5 shows many of Africa’s nations have experienced wars. this creates many refugees which leaves agricultural land abandoned. Famines due to droughts and other environmental disasters are more common on the tropics; yet these are not always the main cause of starvation in those areas. A lack of farming technology in LEDCs is also one of the main causes of hunger. Basic fertiliser and farming machinery are simply unavailable and even more importantly considerably unaffordable to the majority of farmers living in LEDCs. Farming technology has resulted in many farmers producing surpluses, even within LEDCs which should suggest that everyone should easily be fed; but misguided policies are chiefly to blame for failure of equal distribution. Many African countries may be suffering from food shortages even though they have enough farmland and technological know-how to feed themselves- the problem is much of this land is used to grow cash crops which are sold to richer nations(fig 4).

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Many theorists have predicted the future of agriculture in terms of whether we will be able to continue to feed ourselves even though population globally is ever-increasing and shows few signs of slowing (fig ). However past theorists would not have realised the effects that were brought about by the Green Revolution. This term was coined to describe the process of growing new high-yielding varieties of crops which led to great increases in food production. The Green Revolution began in the 160s and also marked the development of new fertilisers and Pesticides, as well as improving farming techniques such as irrigation.

Without these developments we would undoubtedly be experiencing massive food shortages. But thankfully technology has kept up with demand. During the 160s in Mexico a new wheat strain was developed which trebled the yield of wheat. Alternatively the Philippines have grown new rice grains which have more than trebled rice yields. These advances are not only important to the present (i.e. more people can now be fed) but are also important to the future. Multiple yields can be farmed from the same plot of land. This means other land such as tropical rainforest does not need to be felled to provide more farmland. This is definitely beneficial to the environment.

Advances in biology have also been important in increasing yields. Wider use of pesticides has been instrumental in protecting crops. Modern fertilisers are more environmentally friendly and are better suited to fight ever-evolving pests which hamper food production. Many of these advances though have been more useful to MEDCs rather than LEDCs (fig ). The reason for this is that most of these new technologies are rather costly. Newer pesticides are not widely used, except for richer farmers. Instead many LEDC farmers still rely on DDT as a pesticides. DDT is relatively cheap and obtainable which is why it is used. However DDT can become very concentrated in food chains as well as being potentially dangerous to the environment as well as animals, which is why it is banned by many developed nations.

It is clear that the positive aspects of the Green Revolution have not been enjoyed by all farmers, and it can be argued technology has actually widened the gap between rich and poor farmers. Advances in the last 10 years have also resulted in further developments in food production. The term ‘Gene Revolution’ has recently been used to describe the current research into micro-biological techniques which could lead to further improvements for farmers. Crops are genetically modified in a number of ways with such aims as increasing yields, improving resistance to diseases, and enhancing their resilience in harsh environments.

The evidence shows that technology has had a huge impact on world food production especially since the 160s. Farmers have been able to keep up with the rising population and development in areas such as gene modification continues. Yet it is arguable whether technology is the key to our food problems. Even with all our advancements hunger still exists throughout the world on quite a large scale. Even more worryingly food shortages usually happen in those areas with large birth rates. The effects of technology on the other hand are mostly felt in those areas in which famine hardly occurs anymore, such as MEDCs. As long as technology improves there will be enough food to go around for everyone; but for food to be evenly distributed there needs to be major change in international law and farming policies. One unfortunate side-effect of technology is that surpluses are grown which lower crop prices Policies like these need to be stopped which can prevent the real causes of hunger amongst the poor and needy.

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