Increasing food energy efficiency provides a critical path for significant growth in food supply without compromising environmental sustainability. Seven options are proposed for the short-, mid- and long-term.
OPTIONS WITH SHORT-TERM EFFECTS
To decrease the risk of highly volatile prices, price regulation on commodities and larger cereal stocks should be created to buffer the tight markets of food commodities and the subsequent risks of speculation in markets.
This includes reorganizing the food market infrastructure and institutions to regulate food prices and provide food safety nets aimed at alleviating the impacts of rising food prices and food shortage, including both direct and indirect transfers, such as a global fund to support micro-finance to boost small-scale farmer productivity.
Encourage removal of subsidies and blending ratios of first generation biofuels, which would promote a shift to higher generation biofuels based on waste (if this does not compete with animal feed), thereby avoiding the capture of cropland by biofuels.
This includes removal of subsidies on agricultural commodities and inputs that are exacerbating the developing food crisis, and investing in shifting to sustainable food systems and food energy efficiency.
OPTIONS WITH MID-TERM EFFECTS
Reduce the use of cereals and food fish in animal feed and develop alternatives to animal and fish feed.
This can be done in a “green” economy by increasing food energy efficiency using fish discards, capture and recycling of post-harvest losses and waste and development of new technology, thereby increasing food energy efficiency by 30–50% at current production levels. It also involves re-allocating fish currently used for aquaculture feed directly to human consumption, where feasible.
Support farmers in developing diversified and resilient eco-agriculture systems that provide critical ecosystem services (water supply and regulation, habitat for wild plants and animals, genetic diversity, pollination, pest control, climate regulation), as well as adequate food to meet local and consumer needs.
This includes managing extreme rainfall and using inter-cropping to minimize dependency on external inputs like artificial fertilizers, pesticides and blue irrigation water and the development, implementation and support of green technology also for small-scale farmers.
Increased trade and improved market access can be achieved by improving infrastructure and reducing trade barriers.
However, this does not imply a completely free market approach, as price regulation and government subsidies are crucial safety nets and investments in production. Increased market access must also incorporate a reduction of armed conflict and corruption, which has a major impact on trade and food security.
OPTIONS WITH LONG-TERM EFFECTS
Limit global warming, including the promotion of climate-friendly agricultural production systems and land-use policies at a scale to help mitigate climate change.
Raise awareness of the pressures of increasing population growth and consumption patterns on sustainable ecosystem functioning.