The loss of water has a significant influence on food production. Farmers cannot irrigate their crops and, as a result, cannot feed an ever-increasing population without water. Agriculture, which accounts for over 70% of worldwide water withdrawals, is continuously contending for a limited water supply with home, industrial, and environmental applications. Water loss is a threat multiplier for hungry and undernourished individuals. Water loss impacts the global food system, making individuals who are already hungry or undernourished particularly vulnerable to these new dangers. Countries must also address the current water scarcity situation and provide clean, sufficient water to those who need it to eradicate hunger. Poorer crop yields, increased food prices, and lower income have all occurred due to this. Low-income individuals and their access to food have been disproportionately damaged by these disasters, which is why countries have chosen to focus on the link between water loss and food security. Drought is becoming more likely in many locations due to water loss. Most of these reasons make reducing hunger more challenging.
Water scarcity has a significant impact on agriculture. For the cultivation of crops, animals, and fisheries and the processing and preparation of these commodities and products, adequate quality and quantity of water are required. Water is the lifeblood of ecosystems such as forests, lakes, and wetlands, and it is critical for the food and nutritional security of current and future generations.
Changing climate will also substantially influence agriculture since it will increase water demand, limit agricultural production, and reduce the water supply in regions where irrigation is most needed or has a comparative advantage. Water scarcity will become more prevalent in a growing number of areas.
A healthy human existence requires clean freshwater, but 1.1 billion people lack access to it, and 2.7 billion face water scarcity for at least 30 days in a year. The loss of freshwater lowered the quality and quantity of food produced, resulting in many ailments linked to malnutrition and protein deficiency. People’s drinking water is contaminated dangerously or polluted chemically due to insufficient urban, industrial, and agricultural wastewater management. People are subjected to significant health concerns because of limited or poorly maintained water and sanitation services. Cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, polio, and other water-borne disorders can be fatal if water is contaminated and sanitation is poor.
Water loss impacting food security
Hunger-stricken countries are particularly sensitive to water loss and have a limited ability to adjust. Water loss affects agriculture, quantity, accessibility, quality, utilization, and food system stability. In a nutshell, it affects each part of the food system. Extreme water loss issues are increasing and lowering important agricultural production. It impairs the nutritional value of crops. From farm to plate, around a 1/3rd of food is wasted globally. As a result, these wastes exacerbate water scarcity while providing no benefit to food security or nutrition. A loss of water causes droughts and floods and affects staple crops worldwide. Due to an overall increase in water shortage, maize and wheat output have decreased in recent years.
If water loss impacts food production, it’s only natural to impact food access. Drought might result in higher pricing for the food that is available. The poor people are the ones who are most affected by price rises. The next problem in many food-insecure communities is nutrition. Water scarcity can harm the nutrition present in grown foods. Beyond a plant-based diet, cattle have repercussions, consuming, growing, and producing meat and milk using the same resources as humans. Drought also poses a serious threat to livestock, with livestock losses accounting for one-third of all drought-related losses, whereas crops account for half of the total. The depletion of water also threatens fish populations. Climate change is caused by water loss. Due to climate change, fungal diseases or pests destroy crop yields in high-dry locations when transferred to warehouses in areas with moisture. As the climate changes every year, this will increase the amount of food wasted each year.
Ways to solve water loss problems
The initiative will focus on several major theme areas to solve water scarcity challenges in agriculture. Upgrading and improving multifunction and climate-resistant irrigation infrastructure are essential for enhancing agricultural water use efficiency. Long-term developments in agricultural water production are crucial. Some landscape techniques could play a key role in managing rainwater, water quality, and enhancing agricultural groundwater resources.
It is necessary to reuse treated wastewater for food production while maintaining food safety. It is also required to prevent and regulate water contamination caused by agricultural operations. More effective water usage across the food value chain can save water, reduce pollution, and produce higher-quality food. Since 1/3rd of all food produced globally is wasted annually, avoiding, limiting, repurposing, and recycling food losses and waste is an important aspect of conserving water resources. If farmers improve the farming practices and income possibilities, they may have more alternatives for less water-intensive farming and more climate-resilient living.
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