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Un fao growing more food using less water factsheet

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  • 1. Media Fact Sheet United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) www.fao.org Growing More Food – Using Less WaterWater use in agriculture Climate change and biofuels‣ Agriculture accounts for 70% of all freshwater ‣ Climate change is likely to hit the poorest withdrawals compared to 20% for industry and smallholder farmers particularly hard as they 10% for municipal and domestic use. In Africa farm marginal lands and relying on rainfall to and Asia more than 80 % of water is for sustain their livelihoods. agriculture compared to less than 40% in Europe ‣ Extreme weather events, such as storms and and North America flooding, can contaminate freshwater and‣ In Africa and Asia less than 10% of the water is damage facilities used by farmers to store and withdrawn by industry, in Europe and North carry water. America the figure is 50%. ‣ Around 2% of water for irrigation is used for‣ Rapid population growth in urban areas means liquid biofuel production. It takes 2 500 litres of less water for farming. water to produce 1 litre of liquid biofuel used for‣ Water also needed for less consumptive, but transportation – enough to provide basic food important uses such as hydropower, navigation for one person for one day. and sustaining the environment and ‣ Even though globally the amount of water ecosystems. withdrawn for biofuel production is modest,‣ The challenge for global agriculture is to grow they may worsen water scarcity problems in more food with declining allocations of land and some areas. water. Irrigation and rain fed production‣ To do this will require a much more responsive ‣ 40% of total food production in developing approach to water use and water management countries is grown on irrigated land. By 2030 the in agriculture. amount will be close to 50%.Water and food relationship ‣ Only 7% of cropland in Africa is irrigated and‣ Food production kept pace with the increase in only 4% in sub-Saharan Africa, compared to 38% global population from 2.5 billion in 1950 to in Asia. In total, 29 % of arable land in 6.5 billion today through improvements in developing countries is irrigated. cereal yields and expansion of irrigated land, ‣ Between 1961 and 1999, the amount of irrigated particularly in Asia. land in the world grew 1.8% a year, resulting in a‣ Now food prices have risen again and with the total increase of almost 130 million hectares. population expected to hit 9 billion by 2050 the ‣ Between 1997 and 2030 water withdrawal for world is going to have to massively improve irrigation in developing countries is expected to water productivity in agriculture if it is to feed have grown by 14%. itself. ‣ Africa only uses 5% of its renewable water‣ On average human beings need to drink resources, and sub-Saharan Africa even less than between 2 and 4 litres of fluids a day but 3%, so the potential for improved irrigation is consume 2 000 to 5 000 through the water used enormous. in producing their food. ‣ An FAO conference in Libya in December 2008‣ It takes around one litre of water to produce one estimated Africa needs $65 billion investment calorie of food energy. for a twenty-year period for around 1 000 water‣ Growing urbanization and increased wealth in improvement projects - the equivalent of 17% of many parts of the world has led to an increase in OECD yearly agriculture subsidies or 5.4% of demand for a varied diet including more meat. global military spending. Protein rich-diets require substantially more ‣ The performance of existing irrigation systems water than vegetarian diets. will need to be raised and more arable land converted to intensive production while mitigating environmental impacts. Fifth World Water Forum Istanbul, Turkey March 16–22, 2009

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