Agriculture, the human activity that consumes the most water, is facing profound and inevitable changes.
Thursday, June 9, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released “Climate change, water and food security”, a report analyzing these changes. According to the report, 40% of world agriculture is currently irrigated, amounting to roughly 20% of arable land or 300 million hectares worldwide.
The FAO started by establishing a list of predicted impacts on water availability: reduced river flow, slowed replenishment of aquifers, rising sea levels, accelerated water cycles, melting glaciers, increase in extreme events (floods and droughts)… These developments could stimulate the invention of new forms of agricultural production.
It is indeed time to adapt. Certain concrete solutions are currently being explored. To start, we need to strengthen accountability in terms of water supply so that not a drop of the resource is wasted. Next, we must rethink our crop models in order to optimize irrigation and to maintain soil moisture. Finally, farmland and forest areas need to be mixed so trees can provide shade, moisture, and wind protection for crops. Agriculture, already spread thin by the population explosion, must face the challenge of adapting to climate change while taking into account the inequality of different societies in overcoming this phenomenon.
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