Water Scarcity and Agriculture

by Katherine Sentlinger, Guest Writer

Water scarcity has a huge impact on food production. Without water people do not have a means of watering their crops and, therefore, to provide food for the fast growing population. According to the International Water Management Institute , agriculture, which accounts for about 70% of global water withdrawals, is constantly competing with domestic, industrial and environmental uses for a scarce water supply. In attempts to fix this ever growing problem, many have tried to form more effective methods of water management.

One such method is irrigation management. Irrigation is a method of transporting water to crops in order to maximize the amount of crops produced. Many of the irrigation systems in place do not use the water in the most efficient way. This causes more water then necessary to be used or for there not to be enough water to ensure healthy crops. According to the World Bank, irrigation management works to upgrade and maintain irrigation systems, such as groundwater irrigation, that are already in place and expands the areas of irrigation to increase the amount of crops being produced.

Another method is water management for rainfed agriculture. Rainfed agriculture is the most common method of agriculture in developing nations. According to the book,Rainfed Agriculture: Unlocking the Potential, 80% of the land farmed around the world is rainfed and it "contributes about 58% to the global food basket" (xiii). Some techniques in water management for rainfed agriculture include the use of supplemental irrigation and water harvesting techniques, such as rain catchment systems and weirs or sand dams. These techniques help provide much needed water to areas where rainfall is inconsistent. Having this water helps to increase the number and quality of the crops grown.

The Water Project works to combat this issue by helping to build water collection systems, such as weirs or sand dams . Not only do these water collection systems provide clean water for people's everyday needs, they can be used for simple irrigation and "can actually benefit crop production by raising the ground water levels… Water is collected and stored for drinking and the rest seeps into the ground and creates more fertile fields" (The Water Project).

Using these different methods of water management is essential for agriculture, as the increasing population calls for an increase in food production.



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