Food and Agriculture: The future of sustainability

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Food and Agriculture: The future of sustainability

The concern for water, particularly in some areas,

This presents a challenging dilemma given the FAO

may lead to different considerations as our ability to estimate that, to feed the world, agricultural production

measure water use improves. Most of us are unaware must increase 70 percent by 2050 (nearly 100 percent

of the considerable amount of water used to produce in developing countries). 106 Such an increase will

common foods, and the differences between them. A involve production intensification, increased water use,

hamburger requires about 2240 liters of water, adding and the likely expansion of cropping areas. 107 Clearly,

a glass of beer adds 70 liters of water and the process if we continue with our current patterns of population

leading to a cup of coffee uses 140 liters. 104 If the

growth and resource use and doggedly pursue the

current use trajectory continues, UNEP warns that in single goal of more production, we are in danger of

the coming decades we may lose up to 25% of food environmental collapse in at least some areas. 108

production due to environmental breakdown. 105 These

ecological problems make it clear that some of our It is therefore irresponsible and even unimaginative to

key factors of production are at risk and challenge the single-mindedly seek to intensify production without

expectations of production increases.

serious consideration of the natural resource base.

Figure 2.10 Comparing water used by agriculture, industry, and households

Middle East and North

Africa

219

North America 203

Sub-Saharan Africa 88

22

70

15

Agriculture

Domestic

252

Industrial

2. State of agriculture and food: An overview

South Asia

842

59

40

Latin America and the

Caribbean

187

51

28

East Asia and Pacific

788

93

211

Europe and Central

Asia

295

72

218

0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200

Withdrawals (billion cubic meters)

Source: Global Harvest Initiative, using FAO data.

Food and Agriculture: The future of sustainability 23

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