Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Global Food News: World Water Week 2012

This Monday marked the opening of the 2012 World Water Week (WWW), held in Stockholm. The  Sweden International Water Institute (SIWI) holds this conference each year, and the theme for 2012 is "Water and Food Security". The WWW seminars for this year focus on topics that include innovations in water conservation and sustainable use, the impact of agricultural practices on drinking water, and the need to bring environmentally sound irrigation technologies to smallholder farmers.

On the opening day of of the conference, the FAO introduced a water management framework, a document that sets out guidelines created to "encourage practices that will improve water management, such as modernizing irrigation schemes, recycling and re-using wastewater, implementing mechanisms to reduce water pollution, and storing rainwater at farms to reduce drought-related risks, among others." The report states,
Of all economic sectors, agriculture is the sector where water scarcity has the greatest relevance. Currently, agriculture accounts for 70 percent of global freshwater withdrawals, and more than 90 percent of its consumptive use. Under the joint pressure of population growth and changes in dietary habits, food consumption is increasing in most regions of the world. It is expected that by 2050 an additional 1 billion tonne of cereals and 200 million tonne of meat will need to be produced annually to satisfy growing food demand.
The FAO further stated that "drought in some parts of the world has hurt global grain production and contributed to a spike in food prices nearly every other year since 2007, making it essential to focus on the way water is managed throughout the entire food chain," the validity of which is evidenced by the current persistance of the drought in the U.S., and the consequent worries about grain shortages and food price hikes.

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