Water is a strategic resource for agricultural production, which plays a very important role in food security.
Today, 22 March, we celebrate World Water Day and that is why we want to talk to you about this resource, which is a key element in adapting to climate change and an important link between our society and the environment.
Water is at the heart of sustainable development and plays an essential role in ecosystems, the production of raw materials and the survival of each and every one of us.
We are seeing how the world’s population is becoming increasingly numerous, which generates a big question mark for the future when it comes to distributing water needs for domestic use and the water demands of industries and companies.
In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly set the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 6: “achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water and to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene, as well as to improve water quality globally”.
In reality, this goal is far from being met, as today millions of people see their human rights to water and sanitation restricted in industries, schools, hospitals, farms, etc. all over the world.
Water and agriculture
Water is essential for agricultural production and plays a very important role in food security.
- Irrigated farming accounts for 20% of total cultivated land.
- It contributes to 40% of the total food produced worldwide.
- Irrigation, on average, increases crop productivity per unit of land by at least two times compared to rain-fed agriculture.
- Currently, agriculture accounts for nearly 70% of all freshwater consumption worldwide.
- Agricultural water is used for irrigation, pesticide and fertilizer applications, crop cooling and frost control.
- Intensive groundwater pumping for irrigation depletes aquifers and can have negative environmental consequences.
- Agriculture continues to be a major source of water pollution (fertilizer runoff, pesticide use and livestock waste) which affects groundwater quality.
Future water demand will require 25–40% of water to be reallocated from lower to higher productivity use.
The implementation of appropriate management strategies (irrigation scheduling, crop-specific adjustment of irrigation, higher proportion of more efficient foliar feeding) that improve water use efficiency is crucial.
Let us take care of this resource that is so valuable for our life and so fundamental for the evolution of society.
(More info on the FAO website: https://www.fao.org/water/en/)