Better Water Usage Necessary for Agriculture WelfareBy Sofía Hanna | Tue, 08/31/2021 - 08:02
Climate change is leading to natural disasters, rising temperatures, food shortages and poor water supply. Mexico, for example, continues to deal with a large-scale drought affecting several states, while others deal with the devastating effects of hurricanes. A new FAO report highlights the urgent need to use water efficiently considering the current levels of water stress across the globe.
The effects of climate change are already showing difficulties to supply water for agricultural production systems due to floods and droughts caused by an increase in the variability of rainfall and rising temperatures, according to a series of reports presented during the 2021 World Water Week in Stockholm. These issues are also leading to increasing competition between users facing water stress and scarcity. "Water management is essential to achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), not only SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) but also SDG 2 (zero hunger). Water-related challenges in agriculture, such as scarcity, pollution and water waste, must be urgently addressed to transform food systems and increase their resilience, especially in the face of the alarming complications of climate change we are facing, "said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO’s Deputy Director-General.
The report on water stress mentions that around a third of the world's population lives in countries with stress caused by lack of water, while 10 percent lives in countries with a high or critical level of stress due to a deficit of water. Problems with water supply could affect large cities such as Beijing, London, Mumbai or Tokyo, which could face a water crisis by 2050, reads the report. Poor water supply strongly affects farmers, who may experience greater inequalities when trying to access water resources in situations of water stress, highlighting the need to promote the management and governance of different water sources.
Between 2015 and 2018, the global efficiency of water use increased from US$17.30 to US$18.90 per cubic meter (9 percent), with the industrial sector leading the improvements. Globally, around 18.4 percent of total renewable freshwater resources were extracted in 2018, although the figure exceeded 25 percent in Central and South Asia, as well as Northern Africa. Urban, agricultural and industrial water uses are highly interdependent and linked to population growth, climatic issues and irrigation practices.
Solutions that have been proposed include the management of the world's forests to focus on water. The connection between forests and water has been previously recognized to be essential to fulfill the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially Goals 6 (Clean water and sanitation), 14 (Underwater life), 15 (Life of terrestrial ecosystems) and 13 (Climate Action). According to FAO, only 12 percent of the world's forests are managed with the protection of soil and water as the main objective.
Mexico continues carrying out programs to protect crops from the lack of water. To reduce the impact of the drought in the north of the country, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development launched the Banderita Boutelova curtipendula grass establishment program in arid and semi-arid areas of Mexico. The program’s first stage is expected to be carried out in 540 hectares in the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sinaloa, Durango, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas, as well as the Lagunera region, to analyze the development of the crop, according to SADER.