Communities around the globe will feel the pressures of water scarcity in agriculture production in the coming years, according to a white paper published recently by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Water Council (WWC). The paper was presented at the seventh annual World Water Forum, which took place in Daegu, South Korea earlier this year. The report said investments in technology will be needed to mitigate the impacts of growing water shortages.
While the paper’s authors characterized the food and water outlook for the next 35 years as optimistic, they noted that some regions of the globe, particularly developing countries, will suffer the most from water scarcity and food security — though we’re seeing the scenario play out now in the US’s top produce-supplying state of California. The report listed South and East Asia, Middle East, North Africa and South and Central America as regions where water supplies are being over-exploited. “In these regions, millions of households depend on water for production and over-exploitation cannot continue indefinitely,” the report said.
Twin trends of growing populations and lessening water supplies means agriculture production around the world will need to adopt more sustainable practices. “Agriculture will continue to be the largest user of water globally, accounting for more than half of withdrawals from rivers, lakes and aquifers, and will need to become increasingly efficient,” the report said. “In many regions, farmers will need to adapt to less water being available for irrigation, while facing increasing demands for their products.”
The report recommends governments find solutions in technologies that help agriculture production adopt more water-sustainable practices. “Public investments and policies must help encourage private investments in technologies and management practices that enhance the sustainable production of crops, livestock, and fish by both smallholders and larger scale producers,” the report said.
“Continuous investment is essential in public research of technologies that will intensify smallholder crop, livestock and fish production. Improvements should be made in crop and livestock genetics, and in production techniques that will permit farmers to increase their output on the limited land and water available. These resources must be made available to smallholders, together with supporting investments in education, training and outreach. Private sector investments and public-private partnerships will increase the pace at which new technologies can be developed and implemented.”
Get the full paper here.
image: photo by sandeepachetan.com