The global burden of food shortage

“Nancy, would you stop wasting food?! There are millions of people out there with nothing to eat,” Fiona said. Yet, Fiona was always the first to throw out leftovers and burn up to a cupful of rice. 

Food shortage

If you’ve ever gone through social media like Tik Tok and YouTube, you must have seen videos of people wasting food. If you checked through the comment sections, you would see many people chastising them for wasting food. But, in some way, we might all be guilty. Remember that last slice of pizza you promised to eat, left in the fridge for ages, and finally decided that it was too old? Remember those times you cooked food but had like a quarter burnt? Or, might I remind you of the food fights you participated in? 

Yet, there is a shortage of food globally. In 2020, during the COVID-pandemic, almost 1 billion people who faced hunger. It is projected that over half a billion people would face hunger in 2030. 

Asia and Africa remain the top continents where hunger is experienced. This is partly due to the high number of people living on those continents.


Reasons for food shortage

Though the global food shortage affects millions of people from different countries, the reasons for the food shortage differ. Food shortage might be caused by one or more of the following:

  • Conflict, violence, and wars
  • Poverty
  • Extreme weather like drought and flooding
  • Pests.
  • Poor governance and misallocation of resources
  • Rapid population growth
  • Natural disasters leading to the destruction of lands and displacement of individuals
  • Climate change
  • Food wastage: During the pandemic, there were recorded cases of food hoarding. People kept buying more food than they could eat because they were scared of either going out again or the food finishing. But in the end, many recycle bins were filled with those food items. 
  • Lack of essential farming tools and expertise.

Negative effects of food shortage on the population

  • Adverse health impact: The food we eat provides the energy and nutrients needed to keep our bodies working properly. Without food, humans won’t get these nutrients, and their health gets affected. 
    • There is also an increase in maternal mortality (death), reduction in life expectancy, and reduction in fertility as a result of food shortage. Death could result from prolonged starvation due to food shortage.


Increased crime rate: Out of desperation and a need to survive, some individuals turn to a life of crime. Some crimes could cause death, thereby raising the mortality rate.

Solutions to global food shortage

To solve food shortage in any country, there is a need for evaluation and identification of the cause of the food shortage. Once this has been established, some of these measures should be taken:

  • Prevention of food wastage, especially at the family level
  • Supply of machinery and necessary equipment needed by farmers, especially in rural places
  • Resolution of conflicts and stoppage of wars
  • Finding ways around climate change and natural disasters
  • Improvement of storage and transportation of food
  • Prevention of food hoarding

Use of biotechnology to keep up with the food demand. Biotechnology, in this case, refers to the modification of animals and plants to increase food production

  • More funding for the agricultural sector.

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