TED全球问题:莎拉·蒙克尔:全球粮食危机可能在下个10年来临

发表时间:2018-08-15内容来源:VOA英语学习网

TED全球问题:Sara Menker: A global food CRIsis may be less than a decade away

Since 2009, the world has been stuckon a single narrativearound a coming global food CRIsisand what we need to do to avoid it.How do we feednine billion people by 2050?Every conference, podcastand dialogue around global food securitystarts with this questionand goes on to answer itby saying we need to produce70 percent more food.

The 2050 narrative started to evolveshortly after global food priceshit all-time highs in 2008.People were suffering and struggling,governments and world leadersneeded to show usthat they were paying attentionand were working to solve it.The thing is, 2050is so far into the futurethat we can't even relate to it,and more importantly,if we keep doing what we're doing,it's going to hit usa lot sooner than that.

I believe we need to aska different question.The answer to that questionneeds to be framed differently.If we can reframe the old narrativeand replace it with new numbersthat tell us a more complete pictures,numbers that everyone can understandand relate to,we can avoid the CRIsis altogether.

I was a commodities trader in my past lifeand one of the thingsthat I learned tradingis that every market has a tipping point,the point at whichchange occurs so rapidlythat it impacts the worldand things change forever.Think of the last financial crisis,or the dot-com crash.

So here's my concern.We could have a tipping pointin global food and agricultureif surging demandsurpasses the agricultural system'sstructural capacity to produce food.This means at this point supplycan no longer keep up with demanddespite exploding prices,unless we can committo some type of structural change.This time around,it won't be about stock markets and money.It's about people.People could starveand governments may fall.This question of at what pointdoes supply struggleto keep up with surging demandis one that started off as an interestfor me while I was tradingand became an absolute obsession.It went from interest to obsessionwhen I realized through my researchhow broken the system wasand how very little data was being usedto make such critical decisions.That's the point I decided to walk awayfrom a career on Wall Streetand start an entrepreneurial journeyto start Gro Intelligence.

At Gro, we focus on bringing this dataand doing the work to make it actionable,to empower decision-makers at every level.But doing this work,we also realized that the world,not just world leaders,but businesses and citizenslike every single person in this room,lacked an actionable guideon how we can avoida coming global food security crisis.And so we built a model,leveraging the petabytesof data we sit on,and we solved for the tipping point.

Now, no one knowswe've been working on this problemand this is the first timethat I'm sharing what we discovered.We discovered that the tipping pointis actually a decade from now.We discovered that the worldwill be short 214 trillion caloriesby 2027.The world is not in a positionto fill this gap.

Now, you'll noticethat the way I'm framing thisis different from how I started,and that's intentional, because until nowthis problem has beenquantified using mass:think kilograms, tons, hectograms,whatever your unit of choice is in mass.Why do we talk about foodin terms of weight?Because it's easy.We can look at a photographand determine tonnage on a shipby using a simple pocket calculator.We can weigh trucks,airplanes and oxcarts.But what we care aboutin food is nutritional value.Not all foods are created equal,even if they weigh the same.This I learned firsthandwhen I moved from Ethiopiato the US for university.Upon my return back home,my father, who was so excited to see me,greeted me by asking why I was fat.Now, turns out that eatingapproximately the same amount of foodas I did in Ethiopia, but in America,had actually lenta certain fullness to my figure.This is why we should care about calories,not about mass.It is calories which sustain us.

So 214 trillion caloriesis a very large number,and not even the most dedicated of usthink in the hundredsof trillions of calories.So let me break this down differently.An alternative way to think about thisis to think about it in Big Macs.214 trillion calories.A single Big Mac has 563 calories.That means the world will be short379 billion Big Macs in 2027.That is more Big Macsthan McDonald's has ever produced.

So how did we getto these numbers in the first place?They're not made up.This map shows youwhere the world was 40 years ago.It shows you net calorie gapsin every country in the world.Now, simply put,this is just caloriesconsumed in that countryminus calories producedin that same country.This is not a statementon malnutrition or anything else.It's simply saying how many caloriesare consumed in a single yearminus how many are produced.Blue countries are net calorie exporters,or self-sufficient.They have some in storage for a rainy day.Red countries are net calorie importers.The deeper, the brighter the red,the more you're importing.40 years ago, such few countrieswere net exporters of calories,I could count them with one hand.Most of the African continent,Europe, most of Asia,South America excluding Argentina,were all net importers of calories.And what's surprising is that Chinaused to actually be food self-sufficient.India was a big net importer of calories.

40 years later, this is today.You can see the drastic transformationthat's occurred in the world.Brazil has emergedas an agricultural powerhouse.Europe is dominant in global agriculture.India has actually flippedfrom red to blue.It's become food self-sufficient.And China went from that light blueto the brightest redthat you see on this map.

How did we get here? What happened?So this chart shows you India and Africa.Blue line is India, red line is Africa.How is it that two regionsthat started off so similarlyin such similar trajectoriestake such different paths?India had a green revolution.Not a single African countryhad a green revolution.The net outcome?India is food self-sufficientand in the past decadehas actually been exporting calories.The African continent now importsover 300 trillion calories a year.Then we add China, the green line.Remember the switchfrom the blue to the bright red?What happened and when did it happen?China seemed to beon a very similar path to Indiauntil the start of the 21st century,where it suddenly flipped.A young and growing populationcombined with significant economic growthmade its mark with a big bangand no one in the markets saw it coming.This flip was everythingto global agricultural markets.Luckily now, South Americawas starting to boomat the same time as China's rise,and so therefore, supply and demandwere still somewhat balanced.

So the question becomes,where do we go from here?Oddly enough,it's not a new story,except this timeit's not just a story of China.It's a continuation of China,an amplification of Africaand a paradigm shift in India.By 2023,Africa's population is forecastedto overtake that of India's and China's.By 2023, these three regions combinedwill make up over halfthe world's population.This crossover point starts to presentreally interesting challengesfor global food security.And a few years later,we're hit hard with that reality.

What does the world look like in 10 years?So far, as I mentioned,India has been food self-sufficient.Most forecasters predictthat this will continue.We disagree.India will soon becomea net importer of calories.This will be driven both by the factthat demand is growingfrom a population growth standpointplus economic growth.It will be driven by both.And even if you haveoptimistic assumptionsaround production growth,it will make that slight flip.That slight flipcan have huge implications.

Next, Africa will continueto be a net importer of calories,again driven by population growthand economic growth.This is again assuming optimisticproduction growth assumptions.Then China,where population is flattening out,calorie consumption will explodebecause the types of calories consumedare also starting to behigher-calorie-content foods.And so therefore,these three regions combinedstart to present a really interestingchallenge for the world.

Until now, countries with calorie deficitshave been able to meet these deficitsby importing from surplus regions.By surplus regions, I'm talking aboutNorth America, South America and Europe.This line chart over here shows youthe growth and the projected growthover the next decade of productionfrom North America,South America and Europe.What it doesn't show youis that most of this growth is actuallygoing to come from South America.And most of this growthis going to comeat the huge cost of deforestation.And so when you lookat the combined demand increasecoming from India, Chinaand the African continent,and look at it versusthe combined increase in productioncoming from India,China, the African continent,North America, South America and Europe,you are left witha 214-trillion-calorie deficit,one we can't produce.And this, by the way, is actually assumingwe take all the extra caloriesproduced in North America,South America and Europeand export them solelyto India, China and Africa.

What I just presented to youis a vision of an impossible world.We can do something to change that.We can change consumption patterns,we can reduce food waste,or we can make a bold commitmentto increasing yields exponentially.

Now, I'm not going to go into discussingchanging consumption patternsor reducing food waste,because those conversationshave been going on for some time now.Nothing has happened.Nothing has happenedbecause those argumentsask the surplus regionsto change their behavioron behalf of deficit regions.Waiting for othersto change their behavioron your behalf, for your survival,is a terrible idea.It's uNPRoductive.

So I'd like to suggest an alternativethat comes from the red regions.China, India, Africa.China is constrained in termsof how much more land it actually hasavailable for agriculture,and it has massivewater resource availability issues.So the answer really liesin India and in Africa.India has some upsidein terms of potential yield increases.Now this is the gapbetween its current yieldand the theoreticalmaximum yield it can achieve.It has some unfarmedarable land remaining, but not much,India is quite land-constrained.Now, the African continent,on the other hand,has vast amounts of arable land remainingand significantupside potential in yields.Somewhat simplified picture here,but if you look at sub-SaharanAfrican yields in corn today,they are where North Americanyields were in 1940.We don't have 70-plus yearsto figure this out,so it means we need to try something newand we need to try something different.The solution starts with reforms.We need to reform and commercializethe agricultural industries in Africaand in India.

Now, by commercialization —commercialization is notabout commercial farming alone.Commercialization is about leveraging datato craft better policies,to improve infrastructure,to lower the transportation costsand to completely reformbanking and insurance industries.Commercializationis about taking agriculturefrom too risky an endeavorto one where fortunes can be made.Commercializationis not about just farmers.Commercialization is aboutthe entire agricultural system.But commercializationalso means confronting the factthat we can no longer placethe burden of growthon small-scale farmers alone,and accepting that commercial farmsand the introduction of commercial farmscould provide certain economies of scalethat even small-scalefarmers can leverage.It is not about small-scale farmingor commercial agriculture,or big agriculture.We can create the first successful modelsof the coexistence and successof small-scale farmingalongside commercial agriculture.This is because, for the first time ever,the most critical toolfor success in the industry —data and knowledge —is becoming cheaper by the day.And very soon, it won't matterhow much money you haveor how big you areto make optimal decisionsand maximize probability of successin reaching your intended goal.Companies like Gro are workingreally hard to make this a reality.

So if we can committo this new, bold initiative,to this new, bold change,not only can we solvethe 214-trillion gap that I talked about,but we can actually set the worldon a whole new path.India can remain food self-sufficientand Africa can emergeas the world's next dark blue region.

The new question is,how do we produce 214 trillion caloriesto feed 8.3 billion people by 2027?We have the solution.We just need to act on it.

Thank you.

(Applause)

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