Water is life, water is food
We focus a lot on the UN’s various designated ‘days of action’ here at FertiGlobal, because they serve real purpose in drawing attention to things that matter, especially those in which we can identify our own principles and objectives.
But there’s one day in the year that really stands out – and not just for us. World Food Day is one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar. Established in 1979 to honour the anniversary of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, and first observed in 1981, the day is now recognised with collective action across more than 150 countries, in up to 50 languages. World Food Day underlines awareness of hunger and encourages action for the future of food, people and the planet.
To this end, every year World Food Day adopts a fresh theme to give new impetus to its work and to highlight areas where action should focus. In many countries, despite the importance of agriculture as a significant component of developing countries’ economies, all too often there’s not enough money available from public funds to underwrite the investment required to realise action; the private sector is valuable in making up this shortfall.
By using a theme to draw attention, private and public investment can be directed towards the most pressing needs. In 2023, that’s water: Water is life, Water is food. Leave no one behind.
The significance of this? Well, just 2.5% of the world’s water is naturally fresh, making it suitable for drinking, agriculture and other industrial uses. The UN describes this invaluable resource as ‘the driving force for people, economies and nature and the foundation of our food’.
But agriculture accounts for 72% of the world’s freshwater use – and it’s not infinite.
It’s especially not infinite when you consider the background against which we are using it: population growth, climate change, urbanisation and economic development. Our planet’s water resources are stressed: indeed, freshwater resources per person have declined by 20% in recent decades. How much further can we push it?
Not much, given that 2.4 billion people now live in water-stressed countries. For years we’ve worried that water scarcity will create the conflicts of the 21st century; in Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Laos, India, Somalia, Bolivia and beyond, these concerns are already erupting into protests and transboundary disputes.
So it’s time to start managing water more wisely – using less of it to produce food and other commodities, and being more equitable when it comes to distribution and access. While governments and supranational organisations undoubtedly have their roles to play in designing and promoting policies that will achieve wiser water use, so too does the consumer. The UN points out that we – the general public – can make a difference by choosing local, seasonal and fresh foods, wasting less of it (including less food waste) and finding safe ways to reuse it while preventing water pollution.
As innovators ourselves, we love the attention being paid to agricultural water innovation throughout the world. Take the British company Alvatech, for example: its research is focused on conserving valuable irrigation water by making saline water usable in the field. Then there’s the work being conducted by institutions such as the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture, where successful attempts are being made to promote the safe use of wastewater for agriculture. And a special mention to the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska, in the US, where they’re not only working on new techniques for good water management practice, but developing the understanding and leadership that we need to manage water sustainably and increase food security.
Of course, we’re not without our own innovations, too. Keeping plants healthy and well-fed, with the right amount of the right nutrients delivered at the right time – that’s a sure-fire way to delivering plants that can cope better with the rigours of climate change, by making them more resilient to drought stress.
And as we never tire of explaining, FertiGlobal’s Total Crop Management approach is designed with both the grower and the environment in mind: helping growers to make the right decisions and take the right steps in successful crop management ensures we’re making better use of the precious resources needed by agriculture. That means we can grow more with less – and that’s a principle that, delivered by farmers across the world, will go a long way to reducing the misery of hunger.
So, this World Food Day, October 16th – think about what you can do for the future of food, people and the planet, especially when it comes to water use. Read more about it here