Monday 31 October 2011

Water: inefficient use not shortage the problem in food production

New Agriculturalist – funded by the UK’s Department for International Development – reports that the world's major river systems have enough water to double food production by 2050 if it’s used efficiently and distributed fairly.  The quoted CGIAR study finds that inefficient use and inequitable distribution of water are the problem, not water scarcity. With a 50 per cent increase in water productivity in rain-fed agriculture, the authors argue that the world can be easily fed if farmers have access to the proper inputs, technology and markets.

Water scarcity is not affecting our ability to grow enough food today," says Alain Vidal, director of the Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF). "Yes, there is scarcity in certain areas, but our findings show that the problem overall is a failure to make efficient and fair use of the water available in these river basins. This is ultimately a political challenge, not a resource concern." He adds, "Huge volumes of rainwater are lost or never used, particularly in the rain-fed regions of sub-Saharan Africa. With modest improvements, we can generate two to three times more food than we are producing today.”