There is a direct relationship between water and food security. In order to be sustainable, agriculture must adapt to the impacts of climate change and grow food with less water
A tool now makes it possible to measure water efficiency in the agriculture sector. Developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the WaPOR open-access database will help farmers optimise irrigation in water-scarce countries.
Using satellite data, the tool analyses water utilisation in farming systems, generating evidence about how it can be most productively used.
Speaking about the programme, FAO expert Livia Peiser said, “The programme (WaPOR) aims at increasing water productivity in agriculture. It starts with monitoring it, but it will also identify suitable options for closing productivity gaps, and explore possibilities for yield increases and reduction of non-beneficial water consumption.” Right now, WaPOR covers Africa and the Near East, but according to Peiser there is a growing interest to expand it.
Besides industries, agriculture is a major water guzzler. In view of the global population rise, there will be a 60 per cent surge in demand for food by 2050. To achieve this, even wastewater is being considered a valuable resource for crop cultivation.
There is a direct relationship between water and food security. In order to be sustainable, agriculture must adapt to the impacts of climate change and grow food with less water.
Monitoring water usage
WaPOR measures evapotranspiration, a key phase in the natural water cycle. It measures water consumption by a crop during a growing season, and when related to the biomass and harvestable crop yield, allows for calculating crop water productivity.
“The tool monitors how much water is being used in agriculture and then specifically in irrigated agriculture…how much water will be needed to produce food,” Jippe Hoogeveen, senior land and water officer with FAO, said.
For the time being, the database is only available at 250 metres resolution, which is often not enough for providing field level estimates, but it will grow during the course of 2017 to include spatially disaggregated information at 100 metres and 30 metres resolution.
Currently, the tool will provide useful information for farmers and water user associations with regard to water consumption and yield.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
India Environment Portal Resources :
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.