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Focus on... Water and food

Meeting the water needs of the world's burgeoning population is going to present stark choices to consumers, researchers and policymakers. Water tables are falling, aquifers failing and rivers are drying up: China's Yellow River is failing to reach the ocean for 200 days most years. Currently, agriculture takes some 70 per cent of the water used by mankind. But, with rapidly increasing demands from commerce and industry and a minimum requirement for sustaining environmental systems, the pressure is on agriculture to produce more with less, or certainly with no more water than is used now.

World Water Week held in Stockholm during 15-21 August provided a forum to review the current water situation worldwide. Here options were discussed for better management in order to ensure that human and environmental needs are met, and that conflicts are avoided as differing sectors compete in their demands for what is the vital resource for life - water.

Water, not food, the key to survival

Water, not food, the key to survival

Water is essential to life. But, as populations continue to grow, a greater proportion moves to cities and, as rising affluence increases expectations of diet and lifestyle, simply adding to the water supply is no longer an option.

Date published: September 2004

More crop per drop

More crop per drop

Irrigated agriculture has long been synonymous with high productivity; the 20 per cent of farmland that is irrigated producing 40 per cent of current food supply. But, surprisingly perhaps, the greatest potential for meeting further burgeoning food demand lies in rain-fed agriculture.

Date published: September 2004

Wastewater: a resource for agriculture?

Wastewater: a resource for agriculture?

While wastewater use for food production is looked on with distaste by some, and there are undoubted risks attached, it is a practice centuries old in cultures such as China. And yet, trying to ignore or even ban the practice, as some governments are doing, is unrealistic and a wasted opportunity to optimise use of the resource, with appropriate safeguards.

Date published: September 2004

China's water problems

China's water problems

As China's economy booms, the impacts on its environment are becoming more evident. China, for instance, is home to 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. But by far the most serious environmental issue that the Chinese urgently need to resolve is that of water.

Date published: September 2004

Livestock - the thirst makers?

Livestock - the thirst makers?

Livestock require at least seven times more water than crops for each kilogram produced. It is unrealistic to expect consumers to modify their tastes because of water concerns but is there a more realistic view of the future of livestock production where water availability is constrained by other demands?

Date published: September 2004

Fish out of water

Fish out of water

Inland fisheries are coming under increasing pressure, with many other demands being made on finite water resources. While figures still need to be calculated, it is clear that many fisheries require little consumptive water use and fish can therefore contribute to improving water productivity.

Date published: September 2004

 

 

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The New Agriculturist is a WRENmedia production.

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