Meeting highlights sustainable agriculture amid water scarcity

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A farmer harvests her rice crop by hand in Timor-Leste. UN Photo/Martine Perret

Sustainable agriculture is central to the global effort to end extreme hunger, improve nutrition and ensure adequate water supplies for all.

That's according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which held a meeting at UN Headquarters on Wednesday looking at how countries can produce food when water supplies are scarce.

Dianne Penn reports.

FAO calls this issue "the water-food nexus," highlighting the link between food production and water consumption.

The agency believes food and agriculture lie at the heart of sustainable development objectives, adding that an "innovate approach" will be required to achieve these goals.

Dr Pasquale Steduto is FAO Regional Strategic Programmes Coordinator for the Near East and North Africa, whose countries are among the most water-scarce in the world.

He said agriculture accounts for 85 per cent of water use across the region, whose population is expected to reach 600 million by 2050.

"Food security represents an important political aspect of the region because the widening of the supply and demand is resulting in growing imports at accelerating rates. This puts the countries in a sort of vulnerable position vis-à-vis international trade because the food price volatility and the rise of these prices starting with the food crisis of 2008 has pushed the countries to look how to increase internal production. But to increase the internal production of food implies that you need to use more water. And this is the problem."

FAO says outlooks indicate that these countries will face "severe intensification" of water scarcity due to factors such as expanding urbanization, higher energy demands and prolonged droughts due to climate change.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’40″

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