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Effective Water Management Viewed as Key to Meeting Increased Global Food Demand

by 5m Editor
7 October 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1617. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1617

A University of British Columbia Professor says effective water conservation and management must be tackled, if agriculture hopes to avoid water shortages and conflicts over water while still producing more food.

Agriculture already uses an estimated 70 percent of freshwater resources and indications are that food production requirements will increase by 50 percent over the next 30 to 40 years.

Dr. Hans Schreier, with the Institute for Resources and Environment, says the demand for meat in the developing world is increasing faster than the population.

"In the industrial countries about 70 percent of the people live in cities, like in Canada and in Europe.

In the developing countries that hasn't been the case but there's been a massive movement to cities. You will now see that about one and a half billion people, in the last ten years, have moved to cities and in the process they change their food habits dramatically.

When you go to any fast food place, meat is on the table and urbanites, when they move into cities, they start eating much more meat than ever before.

If you look at China, it used to be a rice based staple diet and now the pork consumption, is equivalent to North America and all this happened within the last five to seven years.

There will be a massive demand for meat globally and it takes at least five to ten times more water to produce a kilogram of meat than it takes a kilogram of staple crops and so, with this, there's going to be a massive increase in water demand."

Dr. Schreier says dealing with animal waste from intensive livestock production is emerging as a major global problem.

He suggests several strategies are available to avert a water quantity and quality crisis, including pollution source control, watershed protection, wetland protection and restoration, and more efficient agricultural use.

He says public awareness can also go a long way toward reducing the water demand for both urban and agricultural use.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor