In a world that's currently populated by just over seven billion people and expected to carry up to nine billion by 2050, farmers and governments around the world are becoming more aware of the importance of sustainability in their agricultural practices.
Farmers in egg production pose as just one area of the agriculture industry adapting to sustainable practices. The Egg Industry Center released a study in 2013 showing that the industry lowered its environmental footprint substantially, while still experiencing an increase in egg production over the last 50 years. The study was conducted by a group of researchers through a life cycle assessment.
For the study, we were excited when we got the results because ÔÇª I can see the improvements since I started, says Bob Krouse, chief executive officer at Midwest Poultry Services LP with 30 years in the egg farming business. Feed conversion has improved by 50 per cent and the amount of greenhouse gases that are being released in the atmosphere to produce a half-a-dozen eggs have gone down by 70 per cent.
As the amount of farmland is at a standstill, Krouse says we must account for all the food we'll need, especially with a growing population. We need twice as much protein with the same resources we have today, he says. We've got to become more efficient. There's no other way to solve the equation.
It isn't only the farmers that are getting involved, but some post-secondary schools in Canada are also integrating programs in sustainable agriculture. It is our perception that there are a lot of young people that are very interested in this because they're absolutely aware of what is going on, and they're absolutely aware that we can't keep doing things the way we have done them, says Kent Mullinix, director of the Institute of Sustainable Food Systems at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia.
The program, introduced in the fall of 2012, is designed to prepare students to potentially build a post-industrial agriculture and food system. By post-industrial I mean low-input, smaller scale, regionally and locally focused, and more fully integrated to the community and within itself, says Mullinix.
After graduation, Mullinix says he expects his students to find themselves in a range of professions within government, ministries of agriculture, and even entrepreneurship. A full range of occupations, not just farmers, he says. Our degree program is extremely multidisciplinary, so it has basic agriculture sciences, basic sciences, production agriculture, philosophy, ethics, political science, sustainability studies, geography'all focused on food systems and sustainable society.
In efforts to control global food supply and eventually fight world hunger, Mullinix says it's feasible but certainly a current challenge. It's really paradoxical because in the world there's a billion people that are food insecure and there's another billion people that overeat, he says. It needs to become less input and technologically intensive; it needs to be much more regionalized; it needs to be smaller scaled, and it needs to be about feeding people and not about profiteering.