Food Supply

There is enough food grown in the world to feed the entire population the problem is that not everyone has equal access to this food.

Basic Population

When a country has very little resources relative to its high population size then the standard of living in that country decreses, this is called overpopulation. Equally if a country has plenty of resources like food but a low population it’s not going to make the highest economic return it could, and this is called underpopulation. Ofcourse if the country gets the balance just right then it reaches it optimum population where it’s make the most economic return per capita.

The carrying capacity of a country is it maximum number of people it can sustain in a given area. If the carrying capacity is lower than the population then the population will decrease until is reaches the carrying capacity.


Famine is the lack of food and nutrition in a given area and can be triggered by many reasons, e.g.
Climate – low rainfall, warm temperatures
Environment – Deforestation, overgrazing
Politics – Civil war
Economic – Increase in price of food
Social – Population increase
Technology – transport infrastructure


Case Study – The Sahel Region

The Sahel region is a semi-arid belt which spans across Africa. It covers a total distance of 2,400 miles from ocean to ocean, east to west. The Sahel is also currently part of nine different countries in Africa, some of which include Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan.

The population in these countries is currently rising but not proportionally to agricultural development. They heavily rely upon farming, with most of the population living in rural areas. This rise in population puts a strain on food production which then in some places leads to desertification of the land.

Desertification is the degradation of the land and is now becoming a major problem in the Sahel region.

Causes of Desertification

Over Grazing

Because of a rising population in some of these Sahel countries there is a rising demand for food, this then means that any land which is suitable for grazing gets over grazed which results in the degeneration of the land because of poor agricultural techniques and the lack of vegetation to protect it.


In most of these countries, because of the rising population, the demand for fuel is also increasing. Trees in these areas, once cut down, can’t protect the soil which results in erosion. Also because the amount of trees are decreasing animal manure is being used as a fuel, this means that it is not being put back onto the land as fertiliser which in turn results in poorer land.


Droughts being common in the Sahel make it harder for vegetation to thrive and regenerate which means that once land is poorly treated it takes longer for the vegetation to regrow.

Ways to stop Desertification

  • Improved Farming Techniques
  • Afforestation

How to prevent Famine

Case Study – The Green Revolution

The Green Revolution is a general term used to describe the use of western farming techniques in third world countries to produce more food. It began in Mexico where they developed alternative varieties of wheat as an attempt to solve food shortages. It is ultimately a method of matching food supply with population.

The Green Revolution uses “high yielding varieties” to improve agricultural output in the area, these high yielding varieties, or HYVs, are usually genetically engineered crops of rice, wheat or maze.

An example of a HYV is IR8 rice, it produces a higher yield which means more food will be available. It also has the ability to produce two yields in one year also providing more food. So what’s wrong with it? IR8 requires large amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers because it has a lower immunity compared with normal rice. IR8 is also more expensive than other rice varieties and requires more irrigation of the land, sometimes in places with little water to start with.

Primarily Written by: Edd TurtleLast Modified: December 19, 2011