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ABANDONED AGRICULTURAL LANDS COULD BE A SOLUTION TO FOOD INSECURITY!

A new study shows that reusing abandoned agricultural lands could be a useful strategy to tackle food insecurity and climate change.

In many parts of the world, while new agricultural land is constantly being brought into use, too much agricultural land is being abandoned. Between 1992 and 2020, it is estimated that roughly 101 million hectares of agricultural land were abandoned. This is a mind-boggling area, larger than the borders of Egypt.

A new study shows that bringing these areas back into use could help address two major challenges facing humanity. With proper management, abandoned cropland has the potential to provide a strong source of food to offset growing food insecurity worldwide, as well as providing land for reforestation, thereby capturing carbon dioxide emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Why is agricultural land being abandoned?

There are many reasons why agricultural land is being abandoned. Land degradation, socioeconomic change and urbanisation and even armed conflict are some of them.

As agricultural land expands, biodiversity is increasingly threatened and greenhouse gas emissions increase due to lost forests, not only because of a growing global population, but also because of rising per capita food consumption. At the same time, cropland is routinely abandoned around the world, from Europe and Russia to Central and East Asia and the Americas.

Half of lost farmland could be reclaimed…

On average, 3.6 million hectares of agricultural land were abandoned each year between 1992 and 2020. Countries with large amounts of abandoned cropland include Russia with 12.4 million hectares, China with 8.7 million hectares and Brazil with 8.4 million hectares.

The study revealed that more than half (61 million) of the 101 million hectares of abandoned land is suitable for replanting. If agriculture starts again in these areas by using 15 main food crops, food production can be made to feed 292 to 476 million people every year.

Could also have a major impact on the fight against climate change…

The struggle for food security is not limited to this. According to the study, around 83 million hectares of abandoned cropland are suitable for reforestation. If used to absorb greenhouse gas emissions, this could remove about 1,080 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is about 3-7% of the amount needed to meet the goal of keeping the global temperature rise at or below 2°C…

Source: Nature Communications

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