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Food Supply

Page history last edited by Gillian westerman 3 years, 4 months ago



The global search to satisfy increasing demand for food can have positive and negative repercussions...


Why has the demand for food increased? 


There is an increasing demand for food. The United Nations predicts that we will need to increase food production by 70% by 2050 to meet the demands of the growth in world population (9.5 billion by 2050). It isn't just population growth that is driving demand though

 - as countries become more developed their people can afford to buy more food and diets are changing too - more and more people in the developing world are demanding more meat products as they become wealthier.


- People in the richer world, like us, are demanding a wider choice in our food too - we want foods that cannot be grown in our own country and we want foods all year round, even if they are out of season!  When was the last time you ate strawberries? What about mangetout or baby sweetcorn?


So, the world's food supply industry has become globalised as food produced in one country travels the world to supermarkets in another country. This has environmental, economic, social and political implications!


We need to investigate:

1. The importing of food stuffs compared to energy intensive food production at home.

2. The switch from subsistence farming to cash crop production 

3. The use of marginal land

4. The potential conflicts of controlling water for irrigation

5. Eat Local campaigns



1, What are the costs and benefits of importing food compared to local energy intensive food production?



 Food Miles: the distance that food items travel from where they are grown to where they are eaten (Kenya to the UK is 5000miles!)  take a look - food miles calculator

Carbon Footprint: The amount of carbon generated by things people do, including creating a demand for out-of-season food.  (calculate yours!)  Try this questionnaire


Watch this


Key Facts:

  • over 50% of vegetables and 95% of fruit is imported into the UK
  • 1% of this is imported by air but this is responsible for 11% of carbon emissions related to food production.
  • The UK imports over 25 000 tonnes of Kenyan vegetables each year.
  • Horticulture is Kenya's second biggest export earner. 


Should the UK stop importing vegetables from Kenya?


Answering this question is not as straightforward as it seems - you have to consider the costs and benefits for the UK and for Kenya. There are also a lot of stakeholders to consider.  Use this document to help you argue your case.


If time - Question 1 on page 227 too!

Extension:  https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/interactive/2011/jun/01/global-food-crisis-interactive 

(Start with Paraguay and follow the links to explain the impact of changing diets. Then describe the impact of the growing demand for biofuels on poorer countries.(click on KENYA to get started)





2. The switch from subsistence farming to cash crop production  (tasks are  HERE)


Subsistence farming - producing just enough crops to feed the farmer and their family.


Cash Crops - these are crops that are produced for export. For example - bananas, cocoa, mangetout...


The globalisation of the food industry has lead to the growth of farmers switching to Cash Crops. What are the impacts of developing cash crop farming on a  subsistence economy?


While there are many advantages to cash crop farming such as an income for the farmer and his family,  wages for farm workers, and government revenue through taxes,


The subsistence farmer can start to make money and therefore improve their quality of life e.g. money to spend on their home, schooling, food, their farm...


BUT it may also have adverse effects....  Bananas in Ecuador - WATCH and list the advantages and disadvantages for smaller farmers who grow bananas for export. 


1.  Explain the advantages for a subsistence farmer switching  to cash crop production.


The problems of relying on cash crops can be quite significant...


2. Consider the following scenarios...(explain what problems they create)


  • More farmers start to produce the same cash crop
  • Transnational companies and supermarkets determine prices
  • Extreme weather events
  • More land is given over to cash crop production rather than subsistence crops
  • In order to increase production chemicals such as fertilisers and pesticides can be purchased



3. Describe the impacts of cash crop farming on a subsistence economy (6)


extension: What role can Fairtrade play in supporting smaller farmers?




3. The Use of Marginal Land 


Read pages 226/7

1. What is marginal land and why isn't it used for farming?

2. Why is marginal land put into production?

3. Describe the environmental impacts of farming on marginal land.


The Masai tribe of the Kenyan Serengeti are an example of farmers suffering from using marginal land.


4. Water is needed to irrigate crops to satisfy the demand for food. This can lead to hostilities between countries over the control of water.


Egypt has to import 50% of it's food because of the scarcity of water. The main source of water is the River Nile.  WATCH THIS BBC report


The Nile is hotly disputed between Ethiopia and Sudan ,who control its headwaters, and Egypt.

The Nile is the world’s longest river , 6,500kms, 3.4 million km2 catchment,10% of Africa, running through 10 countries  with 360 million people depending on it for survival.

Growing issues of desertification & salinisation and increased evaporation linked to climate change

About 85 % water originates from Eritrea and Ethiopia, but  94 % is used by Sudan and Egypt.


The Aswan Dam was built in Egypt in the 1960s along the River Nile to provide more water for irrigation and increase food supply. The scheme has doubled the amount of land for farming, an extra 2 million hectares. It allows farmers to grow more than one crop a year, doubling or trebling their yields.


However the scheme has resulted in political tensions in this region of Africa. 




On an outline map of North Africa mark on the following:

The River Nile (the White Nile and the Blue Nile)

Lake Victoria





Lake Nasser

The High Aswan Dam

Existing Dams and those under construction (page 228)


Use the information at the bottom of figure 2 page 228 to explain why water is such a valuable commodity in this region.



Read page 228 and explain why, if Ethiopians ever try to stop the Nile, "Egyptians will attack and kill all Ethiopians." 

read this news report from the BBC about Ethiopia's latest dam project


Explain why Egypt now recognises the need to cooperate with Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda.



The Nile Basin Initiative

The Nile Basin Initiative is system of cooperative management which started late 1990s. All countries except Eritrea  are working with The World Bank and bi-lateral aid donors to resolve conflicts over water in the region. It involves cooperation between countries and community involvement to boost economies and raise living standards in this part of Africa. The main aims of the initiative are to achieve basin cooperation, water resource management and water resource development. The challenges faced include variations in water levels, flooding and sediment flows as well as growing populations and increasing water demand.


Summarise this initiative in no more than 3 sentences.



5. Campaigns to encourage the increased use of locally produced foods


How does this help?

  • It supports local farmers and businesses - money goes straight to the producers rather than big businesses and supermarkets
  • Consumers know where there food has come from.
  • Food grown locally is likely to be of higher standard because it has not had to be picked early to allow for transport
  • Reduced carbon emissions and a smaller footprint from reduced food miles. 
  • Higher welfare standards for animals with reduced transport. 
  • Local breeds and foodstuffs can be promoted and preserved.


Some links to follow...


BigBarn website - links to local suppliers



CPRE - Campaign to protect Rural England 


Surrey Hills - buy local - you could select some examples from here! 


Waitrose- doing its bit to support local! Leckford Estate



Explain how encouraging the use of locally produced food can have positive repercussions. (6)


You must use the following terms in your answer:

  • Food miles
  • Carbon footprint
  • sustainable

and consider social, economic and environmental issues !

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