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Population growth is hampering food security

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Ahead of World Food Day (Sunday 16 October), Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has warned that continued population growth in many regions is making it more difficult to provide enough healthy and nutritious food to all.

The SPA notes that countries currently experiencing food insecurity, aggravated this year by extreme weather events and the war in Ukraine, tend to have high population growth rates.

SPA National Chairperson Ms Jenny Goldie said Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen are the countries with the highest levels of hunger.

“According to the United Nations Population Fund, these countries have population growth rates of between 2.1 and 2.5 percent,” says Goldie. “The population of Nigeria, for example, doubles every 28 years.

“These rates are unsustainable at the best of times, but in 2022 floods and heat waves reduced crop yields in the northern hemisphere. War in Ukraine means crops are not planted and that grain has not been exported at rates sufficient to stave off hunger in importing countries.

“In Pakistan, a large part of the country is still under water. The country is normally food self-sufficient, but it lost almost 15% of its rice crop in the floods and destroyed the grain reserves of many farming families.

“Pakistan suffered another massive flood in 2010. In the meantime, according to the UN, the country’s population has swelled from 184 million to nearly 230 million. Will it be harder to find food with so many extra people? »

Ms Goldie says the heatwave and drought that has hit Britain this northern summer has meant that harvests of crops including potatoes, onions, sugar beet, apples and hops , fell by 10 to 50%.

“It’s not just the returns. Supply chains can be affected by extreme weather conditions. In Australia, for example, in January and February this year, much of central and northern Australia experienced food shortages as widespread flooding cut off road and rail connections to the south. Food had to be flown to the town of Coober Pedy and, for a time, supermarket shelves stood empty across the Northern Territory.

“Unfortunately, due to climate change, these extreme weather events seem to be the new normal,” says Ms Goldie. “There is no guarantee that the world will be able to feed eight billion people, let alone the projected two billion more by the end of the century.”

“We just need to stop population growth everywhere so everyone can be fed.”

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