The water and the crisis in world food production

Juan G. R. The water and the crisis in world food production

Alicante, 11/11/2008, Spain

Currently the world’s population is estimated at 6700millones inhabitants of whom about 15%, have problems of hunger, so it is necessary to increase food production and reduce production costs, the water through irrigation tends to duplicate and triple food production, so it is important to the development of irrigation and drainage in different countries and with much more importance in underdeveloped countries, which require financial and technological support from developed countries to break the deadlock.

The biggest user of water in the world is the agricultural sector with a water consumption of 70% of demand. Currently the areas of irrigation in the world are more than 290 million hectares, reflecting the importance of water in sustainable development of mankind. According to FAO data, no irrigated agriculture is used in 83% of cultivated areas, resulting in a production of 60% of the world’s food, however irrigated areas account for only 17% and allow a production of 40% of the world’s food, which stresses the importance of irrigation in feeding the world, because the production received per unit area usually doubles or triples the production obtained in areas without irrigation. With the increase in world population is estimated that by 2030 year, the irrigated agriculture needs to increase water availability by 14%, which requires an additional reservoir capacity of 220 cubic kilometre of water.

From the foregoing it is noted that irrigation in agriculture is an alternative to increasing agricultural yields and food production, since it allows greater stability in agricultural production and a decrease in production costs per ton, so that makes it possible for the products are cheaper and more profitable, have a direct impact on the cost of living.

On the other hand, the FAO reported that at present food production is reduced greatly in soil salinity problems, as there are approximately 30 million hectares affected by this case and that each year 500 thousand hectares are lost as a result of salinity caused primarily by overuse of aquifers, the use of irrigated water of poor quality, pollution of water sources, the advance of desertification, human action and climate change.

In another sense it is noted that in China with around 1200 million people, currently has a rural population of some 800 million inhabitants and is projected that due to high development that will reach its economy, moving from the countryside to the city about 200 million over the next decade, which results in consequences that will be necessary to produce more food, more so when you take into consideration the high pollution of the rivers in that country as a result of the accelerated development of its economy.

The fall in prices of agricultural products due to globalization has affected food production in Africa and South America, which together with the energy crisis and the economic crisis has caused about 1000 million people have problems with the food supply.

There are 1400 millions km3 water in the world whose the fresh water is only 2.5 % and of it the 70 % is ice and snow, that is found in the Antartic, Artic, Groenland, Alaska and the montain top, actually the available water world reserve is the 30 % of the fresh water total.The largest water reserves in the world are in Asia and the Americas, the lowest in Australia, Africa and Europe, suggesting that front a global food crisis, countries with less water reserves will be most affected by the water shortages. In the case of Spain, this has about 3.5 million hectares under irrigation, which is considered sufficient to meet the food needs of the Spanish people, however, is due to make a proper water management and food production, as well as energy consumption, it is necessary to make a rational use of water and an efficient management of irrigation water to achieve a greater saving water and energy.

The increase in world population, globalization, energy crisis, the financial crisis, the salinization of soils, the migration of farmers to the city as a result of the low profitability of agriculture and the little development in many producing countries food, tend to complicate the problem of stability of the global food situation, which requires a prioritized attention from various countries, financial institutions, international and scientific organizations. The technology of irrigation and drainage in the world has increased greatly, however in less developed countries has not reached the required level, due mainly to the economic and environmental costs to set them still remain very high. Developed nations must contribute to beat part of world hunger through financial support and technical assistance in water management and development plans in hydraulic underdeveloped nations.

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