In this article, we’ll explore the 10 sustainable agriculture problems and its impacts on agriculture.
Agriculture is the world’s largest industry. It employs more than one billion people and generates over $1.3 trillion worth of food annually.
Pasture and cropland occupy around 50% of the Earth’s habitable land and provide habitat and food for a multitude of species.
Agriculture has an enormous environmental footprint, playing a significant role in causing climate change and also being responsible for one-third of the anthropogenic greenhouse gas, water scarcity, water pollution, land degradation, deforestation, and other processes; it is simultaneously causing environmental changes and also being impacted by these changes.
Hence a need for sustainable agriculture to protect the planet; however, sustainable agriculture is faced with its challenges.
Sustainable agriculture is farming in sustainable ways to meet society’s present need for food and textiles without compromising the ability of current or future generations to meet their needs.
It consists of environment-friendly methods of farming that allow the production of crops or livestock without damage to human or natural systems. It can be based on an understanding of ecosystem services.
It involves preventing adverse effects on soil, water, biodiversity, and surrounding or downstream resources, as well as on those working or living on the farm or in neighboring areas. Examples of sustainable agriculture include permaculture, agroforestry, mixed farming, multiple cropping, and crop rotation.
When agricultural operations are sustainably managed, they can preserve and restore critical habitats, help protect watersheds, and improve soil health and water quality.
Table of Contents
Sustainable Agriculture Problems and its Impacts on Agriculture
Sustainable agriculture has been used since the 1980s and the world knows it’s what we need right now. But we’re still faced with several challenges and problems, which can have significant impacts on agriculture. Here are some of the problems and their impacts:
- Inadequate Food Production
- Water Scarcity
- High Energy Consumption
- Loss of usable land
- Climate Change
- Conversion of Ecosystem
- Food Waste
- Poverty in Rural Areas
- Soil Degradation
- Increase in Environmental Pollution
1. Inadequate food Production
Growing enough food to meet the demand of the increasing world’s population is one significant challenge sustainable farmers encounter.
Currently, each person has access to 0.21 hectares of land. By 2050, this will increase to 0.15 hectares of basic food resources per person, as the global population is also expected to increase to 9.7 billion people. Today, we can use our machinery to ensure that yields per hectare keep increasing.
With the help of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals, farmers were able to produce enough food for the global population.
Furthermore, sustainable farming is important to ensuring food security in this regard, given the expected population of 9.7 billion people by 2050.
However, some sustainable agricultural practices are not suitable for mass production. That’s why providing enough food for the global population using sustainable farming remains challenging. This has led to limited availability of food, hence an increase in world hunger.
2. Water Scarcity
Water scarcity is the result of a high rate of aggregate demand from all water-using sectors relative to supply. Water scarcity reduces agricultural output, endangers ecosystems, and damages prospects for income and livelihood for many people.
Due to the use of the right technology and investments, freshwater resources will be sufficient for agriculture to satisfy demand requirements globally by 2050.
However, water shortage will continue in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and other regions. Cities, industries, and agriculture compete with one another for water resources.
Furthermore, water stress, pollution, and contamination have been experienced by a rising number of nations or regions at an alarming rate.
3. High Energy Consumption
The importance of agriculture as a source of renewable energy is rising. Emissions in agriculture may be reduced by a significant amount by using bioenergy for electricity, heat, and fuel.
Some indoor farming methods like hydroponics make use of more energy than conventional farming. This is because lighting, pumps, and other devices are required by indoor setups to work and produce food. However, the good thing outdoor hydroponic farming that utilizes natural light is energy-efficient and consumes less energy.
4. Loss of usable land
Water resources are overexploited, and ecosystems and biodiversity are harmed by deforestation and overfishing. And 33% of the world’s land is already moderately or highly degraded. Therefore, it is necessary to make better use of the remaining land.
Sustainable farming methods like hydroponics and aquaponics may provide a solution since they enable you to maximize your space. However, it’s also vital to preserve the land and revive those who lost fertility to maximize production.
5. Climate Change
It is expected that climate change will have significant impacts on agriculture, including changes in temperature and rainfall patterns, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and rising sea levels.
These changes can affect crop yields, soil health, and the availability of water resources, which can lead to food insecurity, economic losses in the agricultural sector, and longer droughts, meaning less land will be sufficiently watered as compared to before.
6. Conversion of Ecosystem
Agricultural expansion is a major driver of deforestation and other ecological destruction, decimating habitats and biodiversity. Conversion of natural ecosystems to agriculture can lead to habitat loss and fragmentation of landscapes.
This can affect biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and soil health. This can lead to decreased productivity, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and decreased soil health. For example, in Indonesia, oil palm displaces lowland forests, while soy production damages the Cerrado and Atlantic Forests of Brazil and Paraguay.
Loss of forests and unsustainable farming practices lead to extreme erosion. During the past 150 years, half of all agricultural topsoil has been lost.
7. Food Waste
This is a significant global issue, with up to one-third of all food produced being lost or wasted. Food waste has significant environmental, social, and economic impacts.
As a result, we experience decreased productivity and increased economic losses in the agricultural sector.
8. Poverty in Rural Areas
In some rural areas, many subsistence farmers struggle to make a living from their farms, leading to poverty and food insecurity.
This is due to factors that include limited access to markets, a lack of investment, and inadequate government support. And as a result, this will lead to decreased productivity and increased social inequality.
9. Soil Degradation
Soil degradation is a significant problem in many agricultural systems, leading to reduced productivity, increased erosion, and decreased nutrient availability.
Significantly, its impact can be felt on crop yields and soil health, making it difficult to maintain sustainable production.
10. Increase in Environmental Pollution
Due to unsustainable input use, the overuse of pesticides, fertilizers, and other agricultural inputs can lead to environmental pollution, increased costs, and reduced long-term productivity.
This can lead to decreased soil health and crop yields, as well as increased costs for farmers.
In summary, all these problems and challenges facing sustainable agriculture can have significant impacts on agriculture. Addressing these challenges will require changes in agricultural practices, policies, and systems, as well as broader social and economic transformations.
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Ahamefula Ascension is a Real Estate Consultant, Data Analyst, and Content writer. He is the founder of Hope Ablaze Foundation and a Graduate of Environmental Management in one of the prestigious colleges in the country. He is obsessed with Reading, Research and Writing.