The first big challenge that the world suffers from is malnutrition, which means that people eat a diet that contains too few or too many nutrients: at this point, 800 million people suffer from chronic hunger, 2 billion people have micronutrient deficiencies, and 2 billion people are overweight or obese. The second challenge is that the world population is increasing; by 2050, the UN predicts that we will have 9.7 billion people, and most of those people will live in urban areas, which means shifting diets. If we continue in this business-as-usual scenario, we will need to produce 60% more food. The third challenge is that we have 700 million people living below the poverty line, and 70% of the poor live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Although we currently produce enough food for the recommended calorie intake, uneven distribution mens that there is not enough access to it and one-third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted along the chain. Agriculture also has huge environmental impacts on many ecosystem services and produces about a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and uses 70% of the world’s freshwater resources. There are three major entry points to address sustainable agriculture: we must acheive food and nutrition security for a growing world population, we must achieve economically sustainable agriculture with affordable food, and we must have environmentally sustainable food. We must have tailored and complex solutions, such as irrigated rice systems in Asia or mixed smallholder farming systems in Africa.
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