Water and Agricultural Efficiency

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Water and Agricultural Efficiency

World Water Day 22 March

Agriculture looks set to remain the biggest user of water into the middle of this century. While the shift to biofuels is generally welcomed, their production could demand as much water as fossil fuels. In terms of food, the volume of demand is growing with population expansion, and we are seeing a significant global move away from a mainly starch-based diet to an increasing demand for more water-intensive meat and dairy as incomes grow in many countries.

Efficiency measures along the entire agrifood chain can help save water and energy, such as precision irrigation based on information supplied by water providers, which can motivate farmers to invest in their systems to ensure the best returns from their water investment.

Globally, there is sufficient water to produce food for everyone, but food and nutritional insecurity remains widespread. Furthermore, where people have limited or no access to safe water or sanitation, the prevalence of diarrhoeal diseases is a major factor in high child mortality rates, malnourishment and loss of productivity.

In water scarce regions, there needs to be robust strategies to protect water availability to maintain agricultural production and avoid food price volatility. Advances in genetics and technologies that allow the sustainable intensification of crops, livestock and fish production can help meet demand as efficiently as possible.