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Water use efficiency: SDG target 6.4

With a vigorous rise in population, demand for food and food products is going up every day that puts an immense pressure on agriculture. 

Such an increasing pressure consequently asks for an interminable availability and increased efficiency of inputs as irrigation and fertilizers. However, due to climate change, lack of proper government policy, overexploitation of natural resources and low resource use efficiency, the availability and efficiency of these resources is lagging way behind the actual need.  As of now, such deficit is more vividly realized in the need of natural inputs like water that are not amenable to artificial synthesis. 

Water use in agriculture is soaring up rapidly as agriculture itself is growing in intensity and area to sustain consumer pressure. However, without efficient irrigation technology farming system is pulling hard through water deficit which is further exacerbated by climate change resulting in drought and decreased river flow. Furthermore, inefficient use of available water has brought about a large difference in water that is withdrawn for irrigation and water that any crop actually receives; difference being lost in distribution and application. 

According to WFO, this scenario is clearly seen in rural farms where the ratio of water consumed productively to water abstracted is “far lower than average”. To get around this scenario, sustainable development goals target 6.4 has called for the efficient use of water.  To bring that target off by 2030, we should embrace immediate and long term technologies and practices that can help build sustainable agriculture through efficient use of water. 

As an immediate practice, we can use cover crops as leguminous plants that by trapping field moisture can help getting by with lesser amount of water.  Also aiding in enriching organic matter of soil, cover crops are more than likely to prevent run off and erosion. Despite their relatively higher costs hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics can also be other efficient measures to get ahead. In addition, drought tolerant seeds, drip irrigation, organic farming and biodynamic farming can be other way out. 

In conclusion, with climate change, environmental degradation and pollution, agriculture is unfortunately facing scarcity of water- cheaply available natural input.  It is impossible to come up with a solution to fill everyone’s fork with the scarcity of such a cheap and readily available input, let alone the other inputs that are manufactured with sophisticated technology. 

So, every sector as government, think tanks, farmers and other international organization should get along to increase availability and efficiency of water to build sustainable farming leading to a sustainable livelihood.   


Photo Credit: Flickr


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Saturday, 04 February 2023

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