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Helping to Build a World Without Hunger
  FAO Water  
6th World Water Forum
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 6th WORLD WATER FORUM – Marseille 2012
Theme 2.2. | Water and Food Security

The World population is expected to grow from 6.5 billion at present to 9 billion by 2050. This growth is especially expected in the urban areas of the Emerging and Least Developed countries. In the Developed Countries almost no growth is expected anymore. In addition the standard of living in the Emerging Countries (almost 75% of the World population) is rapidly rising, among others resulting in a change in diet.

Estimates from different organisations differ, but are in the range of a required increase in cereal production of 70 - 100% in the next 25 - 30 years. There is also a common understanding that 80 - 90% of the increase in cereal production will have to come from existing cultivated land and only 10 - 20% from new land reclamation. However, due to urbanisation, desertification, salinisation, etc. the cultivated area is in fact decreasing.

At the cultivated area of about 1,500 million hectare (ha) most of the cultivation takes place under rainfed conditions, without any water management system (1,100 million ha). Only about 300 million ha benefits from an ability to secure water with an irrigation system (among which 60 millions with drainage also) and 130 million ha with a drainage system only. At present about 55% of the food production comes from those areas irrigated or drained and 45% from the other areas with no water management in place (rainfed agriculture).

Overall, global food production meets the current demand (consumption and losses). The Global Food Stock is relatively stable, although its ratio to the increasing consumption has decreased over the past years from 30 – 20%. This increases the sensitivity in case of decreases in production. Achieving the required increase in food production is possible provided improvements are made along the full chain of options from supply to demand, i.e., from producer to consumer.

This Thematic Priority, in fact, has identified specific targets that address this continuum. Improvement of the cultivated areas, in particular those without a water management system, is required. These measures may improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers, and their food security but will only marginally contribute to the required increase in production (5 – 10%).

As far as water management is concerned the real contribution to the required increase would have to come in particular from the promotion of agricultural water management systems – from storage to management- in the production areas most vulnerable to climate variability, the modernisation, upgrading or complement of existing irrigation and drainage systems. Special attention is also given to the governance of groundwater, to the use of non-conventional waters, and to the small-holders. Finally, the post-harvest losses are dealt with in order to reduce unnecessary waste, as well as the sustainability of the diets.

• The Challenges –›

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