Monday, September 26, 2011

River basins enough to sustainably double food production

Scientific Blogging: While concern about water is always real, scare tactics like virtual water do more harm than good for rational policy making. Objective analyses show we don't have a food issue looming that science and technology can't address.

New research in Water International further says there is clearly sufficient water to sustain food, energy, industrial and environmental needs during the 21st century. We just need to be more efficient. Massive amounts of water flow through the breadbaskets of key river basins such as the Nile, Ganges, Andes, Yellow, Niger and Volta - the key reason why pseudoscience like virtual water can claim there is a problem but there have been no wars over water in those regions.

While Africa has the biggest potential to increase food production, researchers identified large areas of arable land in Asia and Latin America where production is at least 10 percent below its potential. For example, in the Indus and Ganges, researchers found 23 percent of rice systems are producing about half of what they could sustainably yield.

The analysis – which involved five years of research by scientists in 30 countries around the world – is the most comprehensive effort to date to assess how, over vast regions, human societies are coping with the growing need for water to nurture crops and pastures, generate electricity, quench the thirst of rapidly growing urban centers, and sustain our environment. The findings also present a picture of the increasingly political role of water management in addressing these competing needs, especially in dealing with the most pressing problem facing humanity today: doubling food production in the developing world to feed a surging population, which, globally, is expected to expand from seven to 9.5 billion people by 2050....

A farm near Luxor, Egypt, shot by Wouter Hagens, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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