Canadian Consulting Engineer

Agriculture uses 70% of world’s fresh water supply

Trying to find ways to solve the world's worsening water shortages, the United Nations is turning its eyes to agric...

March 21, 2003  Canadian Consulting Engineer

Trying to find ways to solve the world’s worsening water shortages, the United Nations is turning its eyes to agriculture as the highest consumer.
In March, Kenji Yoshinaga, director of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s land and water division, pointed out that farming is by far the world’s biggest water user, representing 70 per cent of all water withdrawals. In comparison industry accounts for only 20 per cent, and domestic use is only 10 per cent.
“Unfortunately, the international debate on water problems tends to overlook the important role of agriculture, the biggest water user,” said Yoshinaga.
Yoshinaga issued the statements as a lead up to the World Water Forum that began last Sunday, March 16 in Kyoto, Japan. A study by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, “Unlocking the water potential of agriculture” has found that one in five developing countries will face water shortages by 2030. Increasing population and increasing food demands will place additional burdens on the water supply.
The U.N. study says that unreliable water delivery has caused farmers to turn to groundwater, which has led to over extraction. Water levels are declining at rates of one to three metres annually. Irrigation technology needs to be upgraded and water saving technologies should be promoted. However, investment in water development and research has sharply declined.



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