You eat what you conserve

Too many pesticides and a lack of water could harm the quality of food crops.
Photo by Shinta Purnama Sarie

Too many pesticides and a lack of water could harm the quality of food crops. Photo by Shinta Purnama Sarie

By Joelia Fitri Adhistiscia Chaderi

How can we face the problem of food scarcity of the past decade? I bet you have been thinking that we need to produce more and more to meet our food needs. Am I right? Did you think that would be the way to solve our problems? So, you know that forestry is connected to our food production? Yes, you are right. Instability of the climate caused by deforestation will ruin food production. But hold on. You need to understand more than that.

The rapid growth of the world’s population is always a crucial problem year-round. More people means more food is needed. People think that we must have large-scale production to increase food supplies. In terms of food security, we have started to do many things, like using sophisticated technology for accelerating production and clearing the forests to create more farming land. But still, this has not solved the problems.

How has it happened? Modern farming with large-scale objectives and new technology has pushed the land to produce more than usual. It has destroyed natural resources. The land has been poisoned by chemicals, over ploughed, soil has washed away, and pesticides have been used inappropriately. Forest exploitation has also caused problems for food production. The forest helps to sustain food security by preserving water supplies, providing wood-based energy and being a safe place for bugs and agricultural pests. Farmers now use more pesticides to protect their farms and the risk of crop failure is high.

Deforestation and water-flow failure will advance the damage. Too many pesticides and a lack of water could harm the quality of food crops. In Indonesia, the rapid expansion of land degradation has been a major problem. The Director General of Water Resources from Indonesia’s Ministry of Public Works, Moch Hasan, said it was reported in 2013 that 36 percent of wetland areas in Indonesia have failed to irrigate. As a consequence, the land only produces food two or three times.

The worst effect is that land degradation could accelerate land conversion. Forest Watch Indonesia, a non-governmental organization focused on forestry, also reported that Indonesia lost around 15.2 million hectares of its forest area from 2000–2009. The rapid growth of land conversion has indeed affected food productivity. And, last but not least, it has also affected the economy. A farmer without farmland is like a bird without wings. Can you imagine how it would affect unemployment figures?

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the index for measuring world hunger has three pillars, namely food availability, food access and food use. Just because we can produce enough food does not mean that everyone can eat and does not guarantee that the food is safe to consume.

Now, you can start to see that forestry problems are not only about climate change. A little help, awareness and action could help to maintain our resources. Because what you eat is really about what you conserve.

Joelia Fitri Adhistiscia Chaderi is an undergraduate student of international relations at Parahyangan Catholic University, Bandung, Indonesia.

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