MANHATTAN, Kan. – Imagine taking a trip back in time more than 70 years, to the beginning of what many call the “Green Revolution.” It was a time when the world population doubled, and the agricultural industry was forced to grow rapidly with the population to prevent starvation.
The growth in the food and agriculture system took sound research and advancements in science and technology to become more efficient. Today, 70 years after the Green Revolution, the food and agriculture system is facing the same issues of a rapidly growing population and determining ways to meet the demand again using the same limited resources.
World Food Day is a global movement to end hunger and celebrated Oct. 16. It is a day to remember the estimated nearly 870 million of the 7 billion people in the world, or one in eight, who suffer from chronic malnourishment, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which established World Food Day. While most malnourished people are from developing countries, more than 49 million people in the United States alone struggle with hunger.
John Floros is the dean of the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University and director of K-State Research and Extension. Floros, a renowned food scientist, said World Food Day is a day to recognize our past, present, and most importantly our future, as it relates to food systems and making sure every mouth on the planet is fed.
“We have a (world) population of 7 billion people, and we can feed everybody,” Floros said. “But not everybody gets fed. There’s a lot of work to be done, even today.”
Floros said since the beginning of the Green Revolution, the world’s food and agriculture system grew to produce two-and-a-half times more food, with the same resources, to feed the 7 billion. Investing in more research, educating people about where their food comes from and preventing food loss all need to happen, he said, to feed those hungry in the world today and to prepare to feed a larger population—more than 9 billion projected by 2050—in the future.
In the area of research, Floros said more efforts by plant, animal and food scientists, as well as behavioral and social scientists, must be put into finding solutions for some of the food and agriculture system’s challenges. Some of the biggest challenges include water, climate and consumer perception. Water and climate are central issues, he said. Without water, food production will suffer, and if the climate changes drastically, current plant biology might not be able to keep up.