The following issue is taken from the National Geographic article “Agriculture Becomes Our Top Environmental Issue” by Tasha Eichenseher. (Read the article here)



Agricultural products

The Earth’s population reaches 7 billion this year. This has been the primary issue of concern among scientists from different fields, including environmentalists, agriculturalists, sociologists and economists. This issue is of extreme concern because of several reasons. The most important of these reasons is the question about the future of mankind and this world. The Earth, even though abundant in its resources, can accommodate a certain capacity of life. Its resources provide us energy, food and shelter. The most fundamental of concerns among scientists is the availability of food.

The selected issue primarily focuses on agricultural practices. It talks about how, in the past decades, the production of food has increased, but the consequences it had over environment have largely been ignored. The extensive use of fertilizers and pesticides have polluted water, and cultivation practices have reduced soil’s nutrients. The image on the right illustrates the effects of poor cultivation practices on a fertile land which has now turned barren. In the second half of twentieth century, the cultivation practices in most developed countries aimed towards high levels of production. Now, in the twenty-first century, these practices have led the world into an ecological disaster.

A solution to this global concern is to adopt new and improved methods of farming. These new methods require to be enforced all across the world–farms in both developing and developed countries. The following are two strategies that, I believe, will help mankind in the future:

  1. Sustainable cultivation approach that maintain a high quantitative and qualitative standard. A policy change that uses contractual agreement with farmers to adopt improved methods designed by agricultural scientists. A similar method is currently being practiced in France. In this method, farmers sign a “Territorial Farming Contract” which covers socioeconomic and environmental aspects. This approach is ideal to be implemented on a large scale as under this practice, farmers get a good exposure to sustainable agriculture and its importance. When these improved practices are adopted, the quantity and quality of food is improved along with a conservation of soil’s nutrients. (Agricultural Systems, 2006, Vol.90(1-3), p.226-242 [Peer Reviewed Journal])
  2. In developing countries, where economies are primarily reliant on agricultural products, the government and other organizations should finance technology that helps farmers on their farm. The emphasis should be on machinery that sustains biological and ecological processes (such as nutrient cycling, nitrogen fixation, soil regeneration and biodiversity). A proposal based upon Sub-Saharan agriculture highlights similar ideas of investing in technology that improves in food quantity and quality. Another important aspect in this proposal is concerns regarding health of farmers and consumers. These are important steps that, if implemented efficiently, will yield immense benefits for all of humanity. (Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 2010, Vol.25(2), p.118-128 [Peer Reviewed Journal])
In conclusion, mankind’s progress over the last century has made transformational changes on Earth’s physical characteristics, the extent of which is still not entirely understood. Earth’s population is a primary concern  as its consequences can be very detrimental towards the future. Therefore, it is necessary that we take steps towards improvement now, so that the generations to come do not have to face enormous hardships.