FOOD FOR THE WORLD
By the year 2000, the world population is expected to be about 7,000 million. This great increase in the world population, or ‘demographic explosion’ as it has been called, will cause many problems: shortage of housing, shortage of facilities and psychological stress. But the biggest problem of all will be the shortage of food.
In 1973, in West and Central Africa, there were serious deficiencies of basic foods such as corn, rice, milk and meat. This was partly because of natural disasters such as drought (not enough rain) and floods, that is, too much rain, but basically it was because of a real shortage of these foods. Everywhere in the world, the prices of basic foods rose and it became impossible for many people to buy enough of them.
Nutritional experts estimated that half the world’s population was under-nourished and that millions were near starvation. And in 1973, the population of the world was only half of the year 2000! Agricultural experts are trying to increase the output of food in the world without great increase in price. They are working on projects for breeding plants and animals which are bigger, grow faster and are resistant to diseases.
In India, for example, new strains of rice have been developed, which has greatly increased yields. In Mexico, excellent new varieties of wheat have been produced by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work. However, increasing yields in this way may be expensive, and may require large quantities of fertiliser to ‘feed’ the land. If the population continues to grow, more and more agricultural land will be needed for housing.
For many years now, experts have been experimenting with techniques of cultivating plants by using mixtures of chemical compounds and water only. This is called ‘hydroponics’, and if it becomes economical, vegetables and fruit could be produced in factories instead of fields.
In addition, agricultural scientists have been cross-breeding livestock – cattle, pigs, chickens, etc. – to produce better animals. Mechanisation is another way of producing more food. Machines can do work faster, more efficiently and more cheaply than man and they are being used in industrialised countries to do almost all farming jobs. One of the best hopes scientists have for solving the food crisis is to find new sources of food, especially protein. Experimental food is now being produced from petroleum, from seaweed and from other surprising raw materials.
A. What do the following refer to?
1. This’ (line 7):
2. them’ (line 11): .
3. ‘if (line 14):
4. ‘they’ (line 36):
B. What do the following mean?
1. ‘drought’ (line 8):
2. ‘livestock’ (line 32):
C. 1. Why were there serious deficiencies of food in Africa?
2. What will the world population probably be in the year 2000?
3. Where have new strains of rice been developed?
4. What did Borlaug produce?
5. What is experimental food being produced from?
6. What are the basic foods mentioned in the passage?
7. What is “demographic explosion’?
8. What problems will arise due to the demographic explosion?
9. How are agricultural experts trying to increase the output of food in the world?
10. What is ‘hydroponics’?