- The FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf has called for more attention to be paid to water management in agriculture and for increased support and guidance for farmers in developing countries to tackle water scarcity and the related problem of hunger.
“The future of water is in a more efficient agriculture,” Mr Diouf said at the opening of the Ministerial Conference of the 5th World Water Forum being held in Istanbul.
“The millions of farmers around the world who provide us with the food we eat must be at the centre of any process of change. They need to be encouraged and guided to produce more with less water. This requires well targeted investment, incentives, and the right policy environment,” he said.
FAO states that agriculture accounts for 70 percent of all global freshwater withdrawals, though important differences may exist depending on the stage of development of countries.
It also states that it takes only two to three litres of water to satisfy the daily drinking requirements of a person, but 3 000 litres to produce the equivalent of the daily requirements for food.
“Agriculture has a prime responsibility in meeting current and future demand for food but also managing the environmental impacts of production,” said Mr Diouf.
He said growing hunger in the world - with nearly one billion human beings, or 15 percent of the world’s population - not getting enough to eat, could get worse unless “bold decisions are made and concrete and urgent actions are undertaken”.
“The world is facing rapid and unprecedented global changes, including population growth, migration, urbanisation, climate change, desertification, drought, land degradation and major shifts in dietary preferences," he said, also adding, "Agriculture’s role today is therefore two-fold – it has to close the gap between supply and demand, both in the short and in the long run, and also has to prevent future shocks, increase resilience of the most vulnerable and mitigate environmental impacts”.
Mr Diouf called for a “new agriculture deal” that integrates the fundamental role of this sector in overall human development and strengthens the global governance of world food security.
“It is only by investing in productive sustainable agriculture based on good water management that we will meet our food and energy needs while at the same time safeguarding the natural resources on which our future depends,” he said.
In concluding, the FAO Director-General expressed the hope that the 5th World Water Forum will send a “call to the international community to ensure the urgent investments needed in water infrastructure in developing countries and to have a better management of water resources that can address fundamental human needs but also provide productive livelihoods for generations to come”.
The World Water Forum is the main water-related event in the world, aimed at putting water firmly on the international agenda. The Forum offers the water community and policy-and-decision-makers from all over the world the opportunity to come together to create links, debate and attempts to find solutions to achieve water security. It is organised every three years by the World Water Council.
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