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Helping to Build a World Without Hunger
  FAO Water  
6th World Water Forum
Water Quality
Multiple use of water MUS
Water Scarcity
World Water Forum 6
Theme Water & Food Security
The 9 Targets
T1: Rainfed agriculture
T2: Irrigated agriculture
T3: Productivity
T4: Wastewater
T5: Water storage
T6: Planning
T7: Groundwater
T8: Food waste
T9: Small-holders
    Information Resources
Modernization of Irrigation Systems
Modernization of Irrigation Systems
Topics WWF6 | Theme 2.2 | Target 3
Water Productivity

Increase sustainable productivity and lower costs of water management (yield per ha, per m3 of water and per unit production cost) in such a way that by year 2025 there is food security at affordable prices for all.

The World population growth, (from 6.5 billion at present to 9 billion by 2050, combined with the expected rise of the standard of living (inducing changes in diet) in the Emerging Countries, require a very strong increase (in the range of 70%, which could be as high as 100% in some cases in the emerging and least developed countries in the next 25-30 years) of food production to ensure sustainable Food Security.

There is a common understanding that only 10-20% of this increase can perhaps be from new land reclamation. So, the main concern is to increase sustainable productivity of food production. As an average, areas provided with an irrigation and/or drainage system are about four times more productive than areas without a water management system (nowadays, areas provided with irrigation and/or drainage represent one quarter of total cultivated land, and almost 60% of the food production).

Therefore, irrigation and drainage are essential to ensure food availability: if irrigation and/or drainage systems are not extended, or worse, are not sustained due to competitive uses of land (urbanisation, industrial development) or other reasons, the required progress of productivity in rainfed agriculture will be considerably increased, and may be very difficult to reach.

But water management is costly. It needs political will and means to invest. Its sustainability relies on the fact that agriculture is able to pay for the ‘sustainable cost’ (operation, maintenance, modernisation or upgrading of the assets, and ‘eventually’ as far as can be determined environmental cost of withdrawn water). Hence, these costs must be clearly identified and optimized.

The balance between costs and prices is obviously a key question to ensure both availability and food access for all. The full cost of food (including production, storage, transformation, distribution) may be hard to be paid by all the consumers (the poorest may need protection by way of subsidies) On the other hand, the farmers must get fair income for their (irrigated or rainfed) food production, enabling them to recover its costs. Furthermore, too low prices prevent the propensity to stay in agriculture to produce food, and move to other crops (bio fuel, flowers) until insufficient production leads to crisis and higher prices. The question is to set the appropriate share of the costs between economic stakeholders (farmers, consumers) and public solidarity

Thus, in the months up to the Forum this Target 3 will be made more specific in the Target Report and translated in a set of potential solutions that will be based on present sustainable practises and promising new approaches.


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