Water - Saving Irrigation
In the 21st century, an increasing number of countries will have to cope with severe water scarcity. It is gen-erally agreed that this water crisis can be attributed to high levels of water use in agriculture, especially in irrigated agriculture. Irrigation accounts for 70 per cent of global water withdrawals; in some water-scarce countries more than 90 per cent of all water abstracted is used for irrigation. If actual consumption is considered, allowing for unused return flows from the water with-drawn, the global share of irrigation – according to the FAO – is no less than 93 per cent. At the same time, however, irrigation is regarded as an important means of securing the world food supply in forthcoming decades.
Thanks to irrigation, 40 per cent of the world's cereal crop is currently produced on just 20 per cent of the land used for growing cereals. The FAO estimates that around 60 per cent of the addi-tional cereal production needed in developing coun-tries by 2025 will have to take place under irrigated conditions. These figures demonstrate both the fun-damental importance of irrigation for global agricul-ture and the difficulties arising from attempts to limit the unsustainable exploitation of water resources for agriculture.
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- Briefing Note
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- Water-Saving Irrigation (339 kB)