66% of the world’s population cannot support themselves with cereals. In a global crisis, they can face hunger, according to a study by scientists from Aalto University, published in the journal Nature Food.
According to UN estimates, now about 820 million people around the world are experiencing problems with access to food – this is about one-ninth of the world’s population. Most of them live in the so-called Black Africa.
In order to assess whether the population in different parts of the Earth has access to cereals, scientists analyzed how far from cities, villages and other points of concentration of people are the nearest agricultural land and stocks of six key crops – wheat, barley, rice, millet, sorghum, and cassava.
According to their estimates, more than 30% of the world’s population is able to provide themselves with cereals from local sources. Among them are residents of Europe, the USA, Canada, Mexico, the countries of South and East Asia, as well as Russia.
The remaining 66%, which include residents of equatorial Africa, the countries of Southeast Asia, as well as tropical Latin American countries, are at risk of starvation in the event that global trade ties between different regions of the world are destroyed or greatly weakened.
“Our calculations clearly show that local food sources cannot fully satisfy the needs of the population in most regions of the planet, which is related both to the peculiarities of the process of its production and to the habits of its consumers. The coronavirus epidemic further underscores the importance of self-sufficiency and the ability to produce food locally”.
Matti Kummu, lead author of the study.