Notes on Geography of Food

Updated 22 Feb 2014 for the new syllabus
1.   What are the indicators of development?
    Economic indicators
     GDP per capita

        Total value of all goods and services produced by a country in a given year divided by the total population.

        Higher GDP per capita indicate higher income.

        The higher the GDP per capita, the more developed a country.

     Employment opportunity

        More employment opportunities will result in more jobs.

        When people are employed, they will have an income and can afford to buy more goods and services.

        There is higher employment opportunity in the developed countries.

 

     Social Indicators

        Adult literacy rate

        Percentage of those aged 15 and above who can read and write.

        Countries with high literary rate have more professionals who can drive the country’s economy.

        The higher the adult literacy rate, the more developed a country is.

        Life expectancy

        The average number of years a person is expected to live.

        A country that is more developed has higher level and higher quality of healthcare, water, sanitation, food supply and living condition.

        The more developed countries have higher life expectancy.

 

       Examples of Developed countries: Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, USA

       Examples of Less Developed countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Indonesia, Uganda

 

2.      What are the indicators of food consumption?


·         Food consumption per capita (kg/capita/yr) is the average amount of food a person consumes per year.

·         DCs consume higher amounts of meat and vegetables per capita than LDCs.

·         DCs consume higher amounts of food overall compared to LDCs.

 
·         Daily calorie intake (kilocalories) is the energy obtained from food consumed per person each day.

·         Average of 2,586 kilocalories required per day.

·         DCs have higher daily calorie intake than LDCs.

 

·         Starchy staples as % of all calories

·         Staple food is starchy food that forms the main part of the diet.

·         Cereals which is a staple food is high in starch, a form of carbohydrate, providing the human body with energy.

·         Cereals consists of grains such as wheat and rice

·         Non-staple food consist of meat, fruits and vegetables.

·         Meat e.g. beef, chicken, fish are high in protein and fats.

·         Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fibre.
 

 

3.      How do food consumption patterns vary between DCs and LDCs over time?

·         When a country develops economically and its income per capita increases, the diet generally changes from crop-based products to meat-based products.

·         People in the USA consume higher amount of meat, eggs and fish.

·         Large increase in the consumption of meat, eggs and fish in China due to increase in wealth.

 

·         Cereal consumption in China and India is higher than the USA as rice is a staple food in Asian societies.

·         Cereals contribute to 50% of the global calorie intake.

·         In Africa and parts of Asia, cereals make up as much as 70% of the people’s calorie intake..

·         Lower consumption of cereals in DCs – around 30% of calorie intake.

·         Consumption of cereals per capita decline with higher income.

·         Crop-based product is 40% of people’s diet in the LDCs but only 13% in DCs

·         As income increases, rice is substituted with wheat to make bread and noodles e.g. in Brazil, China and South Korea.

 

·         Increase in income is linked with an increase in meat consumption.

·         In LDCs, the demand for livestock (cows, pigs, sheep or chickens) has increased since 1960s.

·         High consumption of meat in DCs compared to LDCs but the rate of increase is smaller. People in the DCs are consuming less red meat as this has been linked to health problems such as obesity and heart diseases.

·         Larger increase in consumption of non-staple food from the LDCs due to rising incomes.

 

·         Consumption of fruits and vegetables has increased for both DCs and LDCs.

·         Mainly due to increase in incomes in the LDCs.

·         Efforts of international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN to promote its consumption. It is believed that a significant amount of fruits and vegetables in a diet reduces the risk of diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

  

4.      Why do food consumption patterns vary between DCs and LDCs? 

Economic factors affecting food consumption

v  Disposable income

v  Food pricing

 
    • Disposable income is the income left to an individual after taxes have been paid.
    • Disposable income is increasing for DCs and LDCs.
    • Disposable income is higher in DCs.
    • People have higher purchasing power with higher disposable income.
    • People consume more meat and less cereals when income increases.
    • Higher consumption of more organic food and olive oil in DCs as they can afford food with more health benefits.
    • People in LDCs are more affected by food prices than the people in DCs as their disposable income is lesser.
    • Food crisis between 2006 and 2008 cause 100 million more people worldwide into chronic hunger and poverty. Many people in the LDCs cannot afford the staple food due to the sharp increase in food prices.

 

Socio-cultural factors affecting food consumption

v  Religious beliefs

v  Food preferences

v  Migration

v  Population growth

v  Changing diets
 

    • Religious beliefs can influence a person’s choice of food as well as how food is prepared.
    • Muslims can only consume food that is halal.

    • Fast food has been well received by people due to convenience and affordable prices.
    • Globalisation made it possible for fast food chains to set up restaurants in many LDCs such as India.
    • Many people choose to patronize these outlets rather than local food stalls due to hectic schedules and rising incomes.

·         People are now trying to move away from eating too much fast food as they become increasingly aware of their harmful effects on human health.
 
·         Food preferences in DCs are influenced by health concerns such as the use of pesticides.

    • More people in the DCs choose organic food due to the perceived health benefits associated with them.


    • Migrants introduce new food to places and drive the demand for new food preference.
    • Migrants may adopt the food of the locals as they are exposed to local cuisine.
    • Migrants introduce new cuisines to people in their new country e.g. curry restaurants in UK

    • Increasing demand for food due to increased world population
    • Population growth rates are higher in the LDCs than DCs – therefore increasing demand for food is greater in LDCs


    • The diets of people in DCs and LDCs will continue to change especially in terms of meat and dairy products.
    • Due to globalization and migration, diets in DCs will increase in variety.
    • Traditional rice eating societies are consuming increasing amounts of wheat as ingredient in bread, cakes and pastry.


Political factors affecting food consumption

A country has a stable food supply when safe and nutritious food is available to all people at all times.

 
    • Government may take actions to increase food supply or food imports to ensure the availability of safe and nutritious food to the people.
    • Food production can be increased by improving technology to increase yields and opening up new areas for agriculture.
    • LDCs lack access to technology or finances to implement it on a large scale.
    • DCs have greater access to technology for food production to ensure food stability.

    • Civil war can affect food stability. In Libya in April 2011, where cities and areas with heavy fighting reported food and water shortages and safety concerns restricted people from venturing out to buy food.


·         The government ensure food safety by setting food safety standards and ensuring the standards are met.

·         They are also responsible for tracking down contaminated foods that cause outbreaks of foodborne diseases and remove these foods from the shelves.

·         Seafood imports from Japan to Singapore were restricted for many months after the nuclear contamination due to the earthquake in Japan 2011.

·         Threats to food safety may come from outbreaks of foodborne diseases e.g. “Mad Cow Disease” outbreak in Europe in the late 1990s and in USA and Canada in 2005.

·         The outbreak has led to a decrease in the consumption of beef because humans could contract the disease by eating meat from an infected cow.

·         The decrease in demand for beef led to a decline in the import of beef.

·         Decline in beef consumption in the European Union after outbreaks in 1988, 1996 and 2000.

 


5.    What are the impacts of inadequate food consumption on individuals and countries?

v  Impact on health

v  Economic impact

v  Political impact

v  Social impact

 

Impact on Health due to inadequate food consumption

 
Malnutrition – the body does not get a balanced amount of nutrients to maintain healthy tissues and organ function.

·         Inadequate nutrients will cause higher mortality rate and risk of adult chronic disease.


Ill-health

·         Lack of Vitamin A found in eggs, cheese, meat, carrot etc can lead to visual impairment and blindness. Children affected will miss attending normal school. With lower educational opportunities, children will have lower earning power in the future.

·         Lack of Vitamin A also reduces the body’s ability to fight off common childhood infection such as diarrhoeal diseases and measles. 

·         Lack of Calcium found in milk, cheese, green leafy vegetables and soya bean can lead to osteoporosis which is the weakening of the bones.

·         People with osteoporosis are more prone to fractures and this will cause loss of work days and productivity.

·         Vitamin D obtained by sufficient exposure to sun help the body to absorb calcium

 

Starvation is the state of extreme hunger from a severe lack of food.

·         The body becomes skeletally thin and the organs become permanently damaged and may lead to death.

 

Economic Impact of inadequate food consumption

·         Inadequate nutrients consumed lead to low energy level and more sickness which will lead to lower productivity and lower income due to inability to work as productively as before.

·         Economy of the country adversely affected when there is low productivity. This lead to higher public health expenditure.

  • Food aid and economic aid can cause long term debts
  • Financial resources are diverted to health care because more people are falling sick.
 

Political Impact of inadequate food consumption (social unrest)

  • Inadequate food supply leads to inadequate food consumption. People become malnourished, starve or even die.
  • Such conditions can cause social unrest. In 2010, people in Mozambique protested against high wheat prices. 

Social Impact of inadequate food consumption (survival responses e.g. scavenging)

  • Some people turn to scavenging  to prevent starvation
  • Scavenging carries health risks because scavenged food contain high levels of bacteria or chemicals
  • Scavenging also place people in dangerous or illegal situations in search of food and they are perceived as a nuisance to the public.
  • e.g. child scavengers of “Smokey Mountain” in Manila

6. Impact of excess food consumption on individuals and countries:

Health Impact due to excess foos consumption

  • Obesity is the condition of being overweight due to excessive consumption of nutrients which is stored as body fats.
  • Obesity can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

 
Economic Impact of excess food consumption (lower productivity)

·         When people fall sick, there will be lower productivity as there will be loss of work days.

·         It can also cause lower income due to inability to work as productively as before.

·         Money is redirected to public health expenditure reducing funds for developing the economy.

 
Social issues of excess food consumption ( food wastage and dieting)  

·         Food wastage – every year, consumers in DCs waste almost as much food as the entire amount of food available in Sub-Saharan Africa for local consumption.

·         Dieting is the practice of regulating the amount of food consumed to maintain an ideal weight.

·         Physical exercise is often practiced in combination with diet.

·         Dieting provides employment and value to an economy e.g. weight loss industry including diet books, medication and medical procedures for losing weight.

·         However inappropriate dieting may lead to depression and dieting-related physical illness such as iron-deficiency anaemia.

 


7. How has the production of crops changed since 1960s?

·         Need to increase global food production to meet the rising population

·         Global food production must increase 75% from 2000 to 2050 to meet the needs of increased population which is expected to reach 10 billion in 2050.

 

8. What factors affect the intensity of food production and supply?

 

Food supply chain (linkages between consumers, producers and distributors)

·         Food producers are farmers and ranchers involved in producing food. The food is processed and packaged by manufacturers of food products which are then shipped to distributors.

·         Distributors ensure that the food produced reaches the food retail outlets who sell them to the consumers.

·         Consumers refer to the people who consume the food.

 

Trend in production of food crops (rice and wheat) from 1960s

  • Since   the 1960s, production of rice, wheat and genetically modified food has increased.
  • Intensification refers to the increase in the productivity of the land through an increase in the total crop yield.
  • Total crop yield is the total amount of crop obtained from an area of farmland.
  • World production of rice rose from 535.5 million tonnes in1970 to 1119.2 million tonnes in 2010.
  • The global average crop yield of rice was 4.3 tonnes per hectare in 2010 compared to 2.4 tonnes per hectare in 1970.
  • Due to rapid population growth and increase in demand for food, countries have intensified food production to meet the demand.
  • World production of rice rose from 535.5 million tonnes in1970 to 1119.2 million tonnes in 2010.
  • The global average crop yield of rice was 4.3 tonnes per hectare in 2010 compared to 2.4 tonnes per hectare in 1970.
  • Increased production of genetically modified food crops

Genetically modified crops are crops with genes that have been altered to make them more resistant to diseases and to make them grow faster, thereby increasing crop yield and productivity.

Blue tomatoes have been genetically modified to produce high levels of anthocyanin, a pigment that produces blue or purple colour.

  • Between 1996 and 2011, the total land area used to grow GM crops increased from 17,000 km² to 1600000 km². By 2011, over 105 of the world’s crops were genetically modified.
  • Most of these GM crops are grown in North America, but some LDCs are rapidly increasing their production of GM food.

 

9. What are the factors affecting the intensity of food production and supply?

v  Physical factors

v  Social factors

v  Economic factors

v  Political factors

v  Technological factors

 

Physical – Climate

  • Temperatures and amount of rainfall affect the growth of crops.
  • Crops such as pea, broccoli and strawberry require cooler climates. Other such as soya bean and tomato require warmer climates.
  • Plants such as maize require more water than soya bean.
  • In the tropics, the long growing season enable farmers to have 2 to 3 harvests in a year.
  • In places with winter, food production can only occur during the warm season where temperature and rainfall is suitable for growing crops.

 

      Physical - Soils and Drainage

·      Fertile soils contain minerals essential for plant growth. Crop yield is higher in areas with fertile soil.

·      Fertile soil combined with flat terrain and large water supply in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam results in very high production of rice.

·      The clayey soil allows water to be retained to grow rice.

·      Growing of oats require sandy soil which is well drained.

 

Physical – Relief

·      The rain is more likely to remove the topsoil on steep slopes. The topsoil is rich in nutrients.

·      Terracing – cutting of steps into a hillside to create flat land for cultivation.

·      However sloping land is suitable for the growing of crops such as grapes, tea and coffee which needs well-drained soil.

·      Temperatures decrease with increasing altitude.

·      The cooler temperatures of mountainous areas may be suitable for growing certain cool climate crops.

 

Social - Land tenure

·      Land tenure is the system by which agricultural land is occupied.

·      Most farmers in the LDCs are too poor to purchase their own farmland. So they rent their land and pay a sum of money or a portion of their harvest to landowners.

·      This reduces motivation to maximize production and led to low productivity. With lower income, the farmers are not able to purchase equipment and supplies to improve farming.

·      Land fragmentation is the division of land into many smaller plots over many successive generations of farmers.

·      It is common inheritance practice for the farmer to divide his land amongst his many children.

·      Small plots of land mean lower total output. Small plots make it unprofitable to use machines to increase output.

·      e.g. Tivland, Nigeria – due to land fragmentation, sizes of farms are smaller and farmers are unable to produce sufficient yield.

 

Economic -purpose of farming


Economic  - demand

  • The tastes and preferences of consumers dictate what how much the producers grow.
  • China used to be self-sufficient in maize production and an exporter of maize as well. However in recent years due to the increased demand for meat and dairy products, more maize is needed to feed livestock. Together with rising population, China has started importing maize to meet the increasing demand. USA has increased their production of maize to be exported to China.

Economic –Trade

·      Global trade has expanded and diversified. This is due to improvements in the method of preservation, processing and packaging, advances in rapid transport and handling, and changes in consumer tastes.

·      Increasing amounts of land are used to grow crops for export such as cut flowers, soya bean and coffee.

·      In Sudan land is being farmed for the production of animal feed instead of staple crops such as sorghum.

·      Free trade allows goods and services from abroad to compete with domestic goods and services.

 

Economic - Agri-business

·      Companies are involved in most stages of the food supply chain, including farming, processing and retailing.

·      Large food companies able to withstand the impact of changes in the environment, e.g. flooding, compared to small-scale farmers.

·      Agribusinesses are able to invest in technology to increase food production including research to produce crop with greater yield.

·      As they have a worldwide network of different farming, distribution and processing centres, they have greater control over crop production. Their production costs are reduced and hence the retail cost of food may be kept low.

 
Political – Agricultural policy

·         When the government of Japan introduced policies aimed at reducing the production of rice in the 1970s, rice production grew at a slower rate.

·         The Acreage Reduction policy was introduced to keep the price of rice high by reducing supply.

 

Political – Food policy

·         Refers to policy pertaining to how food is produced, processed, distributed and purchased.

·         Also involves health and safety and food labeling.

·         Food stockpiling involves the storage of food for anticipated shortage.

·         Diversifying the source of food supply to buffer against food shortage and price fluctuation by over-relying on a few countries.

 

Political – ASEAN

·         In Oct 2011, ASEAN signed an agreement with China, Japan and South Korea. During times of disaster, rice reserves from the big rice producers will be used to supply rice to countries that have signed the agreement.

·         Thailand started a programme in 2012 for other ASEAN nations to intensify rice production in the region. Thailand worked with neighbouring countries such as Cambodia to increase their efficiency in rice production.

 

Political – Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the EU

CAP came into force in 1962 to:

·         Encourage better agricultural productivity

·         Ensure that consumers have a stable and affordable supply of food

·         Encourage sustainable farming practices

 

CAP has helped 14 million farmers in the EU to increase productivity in the following ways:

·         Farmers receive assistance in restructuring their farms to make them more productive

·         Subsidies are provided for agricultural produce. However the cost of providing subsidies makes food more expensive in the EU and is a heavy financial burden for countries that do not have large agricultural industries.

·         Use of import taxes on food products that are brought in from outside the region. This helps to sustain demand for local produce and ensures that farmers are not forced to stop farming due to a lack of demand. 

 
Success of CAP:

·         Improved farm efficiency and food production e.g. wheat yields in EU original six member states has increased from 3 tonnes per hectare in 1962 to 7 tonnes per hectare in 2008

 

Technological advances – Green Revolution [ use of technology to increase food production]

 
       Use of high-yielding varieties

       Use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides

       Improved irrigation

       Mechanization

 

Green Revolution - Use of High Yielding Varieties

·      HYVs are improved strains of crops such as rice, wheat and other cereals that have an increased growth rate and an increased resistance against crop diseases and pests.

·      They need more water and nutrients to sustain their growth.

·      With a shorter growing season, there can be more harvests a year.

·      “Wonder Rice” has a growing season of 100 days compared to the 120 days of non-HYVs.

·      70% of rice and wheat grown in India were HYVs by 1990.

·      Green revolution helped to increase the production of wheat and rice in India.

o  Total wheat production has almost multiplied 4 times that of 1970 by 2010

o  Total rice production has multiplied by two times that of 1970 by 2010

 

     Green Revolution - Use of Fertilizers

·      Chemical fertilisers replenish the nutrients in the soil and increase yield.

·      HYV requires more fertilizers

·      Organic fertilizer such as manure is slow releasing and helps to retain soil moisture.

·      Chemical fertilizers provide specific quantities of a nutrient such as nitrogen and potassium but are easily removed by water percolating through the soil.

 

Green Revolution - Use of Pesticides and Herbicides

·         Pesticides used to kill insects and small animals that destroy crops.

·         Herbicides used to kill weed and other undesirable pants that compete with crops for resources.

·         With the removal of pests, the crop is protected which in turn would increase the crop yield.

 

Green Revolution – Irrigation

·      Irrigation is the artificial way of supplying water to the land

·      Land which used to be too dry for farming can now be cultivated. So there is an increase in arable land.

·      In the North African country of Libya, the Great Man-made River made it possible to grow crops in the Sahara Desert

·      Extensive irrigation project consists of a network of underground pipes, canals, wells, reservoirs and tunnels that drew water from underground aquifers.

·      Methods of irrigation:

o  Centre-pivot irrigation: a sprinkler is rotated, automatically irrigating a circular area

o  Mechanical irrigation-move: a line of connected sprinklers travels across a field automatically using a machine

o  Flood irrigation : irrigation water delivered to a whole surface

 

Green Revolution – Mechanisation

·      Farmers use machinery to perform tasks which they would otherwise have to do manually

·      Machines speed up processes involved in preparing the land, tending to cops and harvesting.

·      A combine harvester helps to harvest grain crops and reduced reliance on labour.

 

 
Genetically Modified Food

·         Crops which had their genes altered to give them desirable qualities such as resistance to extreme weather conditions or diseases.

·         e.g. Golden Rice which has been infused with Vitamin A to prevent blindness.

·         Bt corn has a gene from a naturally occurring soil bacterium known as Bacilllus thuringinensis (Bt) This is a natural pesticide which protects the crops and reduces the risk of it being damaged by pests.
 
 
HYV crops are cross breed and GM crops involve alteration of genes.  Both HYV and GM crops have the benefits of shorter growing season, pest resistant. GM crops have additional health benefits. Examples of HYV crops are Super Rice, Wonder Rice and FlavrSavr Tomato. Examples of GM crops are Golden Rice, Bt-cotton and Bt-corn.
 
 
 

10. What are the effects of continuing intensification of food production?

 
Waterlogging

·         When too much water seeps into the soil, the roots are deprived of air and nutrients, causing them to die.

 
Salinisation

·         Water added to the soil during irrigation evaporates and salt is left behind in the soil.

·         Dissolved salts from the groundwater reach the top soil when there is no proper drainage of excess water.

·         Concentration of salts may be too high for crops to grow well.

·         Salinisation occurs  in the Murray-Darling Basin in Victoria Australia.

 

Eutrophication

·         Chemical fertilizers can be washed into streams and river. The excess nutrients in water lead to algae bloom, causing eutrophication.

·         The algae blocks sunlight from reaching aquatic plants and eventually fishes that feed on them die as well.

·         Decomposition of aquatic plants and animals depletes the oxygen in the water.

·         Measure taken to reverse the trends of eutrophication:

o   Control measures aimed at preventing chemical fertilisers from reaching water bodies.

o   Raise awareness of eutrophication through public awareness campaigns, school environmental education programs and targeted outreach within the communities.

  

11. What are the consequences of development of GM food crops?

 
Benefits

Increased income for farmers

·       GM crops that are pest-resistant help farmers to save money on the cost of pesticides and on the labour needed to administer the treatment.

·       Higher output from GM crops allows farmers to earn higher income.

·       e.g. Bt-cotton which has increased farmers’ income in India by US$12.6 billion from 2002 to 2011.

 

Nutritional Benefits for Consumers

·       Certain crops are genetically modified to have higher nutritional value.

·       Golden Rice has higher levels of Vitamin A to prevent blindness.

 

Decreased environmental pollution

·       GM crops which are resistant to insects and pests do not require insecticides and pesticides.

·       This reduces the release of chemicals into the environment that could lead to pollution.

 

Threats of GM Food

Dominance of agribusiness

·      GM crops are expensive and requires high capital investment which is affordable only to big companies and DCs

·      Small-scale farmers and LDCs cannot afford the GM seeds.

·      Widen the gap between the wealthy and poor farmers.

 

Human health risk

·      Growing concern that incorporating foreign genes into plants may have adverse effect on human health such as allergic reactions.

·      e.g. introduction of a gene from Brazil nuts into soya bean created allergic reaction in individuals who are allergic to nuts

 

Genetic pollution resulting in loss of biodiversity

·      If the resistance of GM food crop is transferred to wild plants, it can have negative impacts on insects and other animals which feed on them leading to a loss in biodiversity.

·      e.g. Monarch butterflies died feeding on milkweed dusted with pollen from Bt-corn

 
12. Why do food shortages still occur?

 
v  Physical factors- climate change, pests

v  Political factors- civil strife, poor governance

v  Economic factors- demand from emerging economies, food policy, soaring cost of fertilisers and transport, conversion of farmland to industrial crop production

v  Social factors- lack of accessibility, inadequate logistics of food distribution and storage, rapid population growth

 

Physical factor  -  Extreme weather

·      Droughts, cold winters, heat waves and tropical cyclones may cause crop damage or make it difficult to grow crops leading to food shortage.
·      Cyclone Yasi destroyed the crops when it hit Australia in 2011.
 

Physical factor - Climate change

  • Existing farmland may become unsuitable for farming.
  • Climate change may lengthen the growing season in other areas.
  • Tropical cyclones lead to flooding of farmland which destroys crops. Droughts reduce water supply needed for crops to grow properly.
  • Disappearance of glaciers reduce water supply to rivers and affect farm productivity. 


Physical factor - pests

  • Pests destroy food crops and contribute to food shortage.
  • Liberia had to declare a state of emergency in 2009 when a new species of caterpillars devoured all plants and food crops in their path, threatening food security in Liberia.
 

Political factor –  Civil strife

·         This occurs when a country faces major internal conflicts such as riots, unrest or civil war.

  • Disputes occur over the control of resources that affect food production such as water and land.
  • Food production is hindered if resources are destroyed.
  • In 2011, a civil strife in Syria disrupted agriculture and drastically reduced farmers’ access to fertiliser and seeds.
  • All these caused food prices to rise and prevented people from having access to food.


Political factor  - poor governance

·         Corruption, policy errors and inability to implement policy can cause food shortages.

·         Governments can threaten food security when they prioritise other developmental needs over food security.

·         e.g. Madhya Pradesh, India  - 40,000 villagers were deprived of land for farming due to development of a steel plant, mining and port. The villagers lost the means to produce their own food and were left with extremely limited income to buy food.

 

Economic factor – demand from emerging economies

  • Demand for meat and dairy products from emerging economies like Brazil, Russia, China and India (BRIC) has increased.
  • This is caused by a growing middle class with more purchasing power and changing food preference.
  • Increases in food production is unable to cope with rapid increase in demand.
  • Poorer countries cannot afford to pay the same prices for food that richer countries can.


      Economic factor - food policy

·         Government must ensure food security by controlling or influencing food prices and food supply.

·         Stockpiling is the setting aside and storage of food to ensure food security during emergencies.

·          e.g. Algeria bought 800000 tonnes of wheat to add to its stockpile.

·         Food subsidies refer to money paid by a government or organization to make food more affordable to consumers.

·         Food subsidies in the form of cash, food vouchers or tax deductions can be given to elderly or people with low income.

·         e.g. food stamps distributed in the State of Massachusetts to citizens with low income.

·         Countries that are too poor cannot afford such subsidies face problems of food shortage.

 

      Economic factor  - soaring cost of fertilizers and transport

·         As fuel costs increase, transport of farm produce and cost of fuel for farm machinery increase as well.

·         e.g. Kazakhstan had to increase the price of wheat export due to fuel increase in 2011.

·         The rise and fall in world food prices follows that of oil prices.

·         The wealthy are more able to absorb the increase in food price as a lower proportion of their income is spent on food.

·         The poor are unable to afford enough food when food prices increase.

 

     Economic factor - conversion of farmland to industrial crop production e.g. biofuel crops

·         Biofuels are fuels that derive energy from biological carbons instead of fossil fuels such as coal.

·         Examples of biofuels are those derived from maize, sugar cane and oil palm

·         25% of all food crops grown in the USA became fuel for vehicles instead of food for people.

·         Farmland that could have been used to grow crops for human consumption used to grow biofuels instead.

·         From 2006 to 2007, 30% increase in food prices related to production of biofuels.

·         The amount of crops used as biofuel would have been enough to feed 330 million people for one year.

 

     Social factor – Food accessibility

·         Accessibility to food refers to how easily residents can reach the food that is available.

·         Even when food is available within a country, how accessible it is depends on the number and location of food outlets.

·         In LDCs, people may be unable to obtain fresh produce and thus have a smaller food intake as the food outlets are fewer and farther apart from one another.

 

     Social factor – inadequate logistics of food distribution and storage

·         Food distribution is the movement of food from farms to retail outlets.

·         Accessibility may be affected due to physical factors such as mountains and the occurrences of landslides.

·         When local production cannot meet local demand, imports are necessary,

·         One-third of the population of Timor- Leste experiences food shortages between harvests. This is worsened by a lack of storage facilities and difficulty of accessing numerous remote communities.

 

     Social - rapid population growth

·         World’s population will reach 10 billion by 2050.

·         Food production has to increase to meet the projected population. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the high population growth has put pressure on limited farmland available.

·         Due to rising temperatures, existing small amount of land suitable for agriculture has declined.

·         All these factors increased the risk of food shortage.

 

13. Is technology in food production an effective solution to food shortage?

·         Advances in technology have increased food production.

·         However, dealing with food shortage involves management through various perspectives, including socio-politics and economics.

·         The use of technology to increase food production may be successful to a certain extent. However,  the strategies may not be fully effective in solving the problem of food shortage. 

 

Read Users' Comments (8)

8 Response to "Notes on Geography of Food"

  1. Krishna Vamsi, on January 19, 2013 at 5:57 PM said:

    Really Helpful. Thankyou Very Much!

  2. Krishna Vamsi, on January 19, 2013 at 5:57 PM said:

    Thank you Really Helpful!!!

  3. Krishna Vamsi, on January 19, 2013 at 5:57 PM said:

    Really Helpful. Thankyou Very Much!

  4. Animefreak369, on April 27, 2013 at 5:47 PM said:

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  5. teo teng chang, on September 4, 2013 at 4:24 PM said:

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  6. teo teng chang, on September 4, 2013 at 4:24 PM said:

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  7. Baskaran Mohanraj, on April 29, 2014 at 7:48 PM said:

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  8. Baskaran Mohanraj, on April 29, 2014 at 7:48 PM said:

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