Scarcity of land, water pose severe challenge to mankind: FAO chief   2011-11-29 04:26:30 FeedbackPrintRSS

ROME, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Deepening degradation and scarcity of land and water resources pose a severe challenge to the world's capacity to meet human demands by 2050, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jacques Diouf said on Monday.

In the last 50 years, a significant increase in food production combined with demographic pressure and unsustainable agriculture practices have spoiled the land and water systems upon which food production depended, Diouf told a press conference to present a FAO report named "State of the World's Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture."

"By 2050, due to increasing population and higher levels of food consumption, the global level of food production will have to increase by 70 percent, while developing countries may need to achieve a hundred percent increase in food production," he said.

But, according to the report, many land and water systems around the globe now face a concrete risk of gradual breakdown of their productive capacity, thus challenging the capacity of providing sufficient food for the world's population which is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.

"The consequences in terms of hunger and poverty are unacceptable," Diouf stressed while calling for an immediate remedial action.

"Humankind can no longer treat its vital resources, land and water, as if they were infinite," he said.

According to the FAO report, between 1961 and 2009, the world's cropland grew by 12 percent, while agricultural production increased by 150 percent, due to a significant rise in yields of major crops.

As a consequence, "globally today some 25 percent of global lands are already highly degraded or are experiencing a gradual reduction in their capacity to provide goods and services," Diouf said.

The report also noted that 40 percent of global degraded lands are in areas with high levels of poverty, while 30 percent are in areas with moderate poverty rates, and 20 percent are in areas with low poverty rates.

Pollutions and climate change are also expected to alter the patterns of natural factors upon which the world's food production systems depend, and competition for land and water is expected to become pervasive.

In particular, water scarcity will be the key challenge of the 23rd century, not only for agriculture, but also for industrial use and drinking water, Alexander Muller, FAO Assistant Director-General, noted.

Editor: yan
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