Chand, R.

Challenges to ensuring food security through wheat - 2009

Peer-review: No - Open Access: No

Dramatic increase in global food prices during 2007?2008 has caused worldwide concern relating to food security and prospects of future supply of staple food. Wheat is the staple food of a majority of population in the world and growth rate in its production is critical to meet food and nutritional security. Demand for wheat as food is rising at a rate higher than growth of population because per capita wheat consumption is increasing as a result of a rise in income, urbanization and substitution with other cereals. However, supply is not keeping pace with growth in demand. Area under wheat is shrinking and productivity growth is slowing down. Though there is some scope to expand the area under wheat, both increases in productivity and area will require a rise in wheat price. The price-led growth in wheat production is, however, not only unsustainable in the long run but also removes wheat from within the purchasing power of low-income consumers. Ways and means have to be found to raise wheat production in a cost-effective manner in order to maintain a balance between its demand and supply. Use of cereals as feedstock for production of ethanol as a biofuel will have a strong bearing on price and availability of wheat for food in future. This also underscores the need to raise growth in wheat production to compensate for any diversion of wheat for biofuel production and to meet deficit in other staple cereals, particularly maize, given diversion for biofuel production. In order to meet future demand for wheat and to avoid adverse effects on food security, wheat production has to be put on a higher growth trajectory in an environment with formidable production challenges such as global warming, threat of pests and diseases, declining relative productivity and profitability, and stress on natural resources


Wheat productivity
Food security
Climate change

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