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Concept note in preparation for the 5th World Water Forum

Daniel Zimmer, Bart Schultz, Paul van Hofwegen
In cooperation with: Daniel Renault

General objective of this concept note

The general objective of this concept note is to place water for agriculture in the global debate. There are several reasons for serious concern with respect to agriculture, the world food situation and the role of water with respect to it, as well as the role of agriculture for ending poverty and hunger. The following important issues may be mentioned:

  • population growth and the rapid increase in the standard of living, especially in the emerging countries, resulting in changes in diet. These two developments result in an rapid overall increase in consumption;
  • worsening global food situation;
  • the continuing high number of rural poor and undernourished people;
  • increase in production of bio-fuel at the cost of food production;
  • the fact that agriculture (irrigation) diverts the largest water withdrawals (globally about 70%), and the increasing pressures that are foreseen in the near future (demography, competition with other uses, climate changes) to reduce this amount. On the other hand irrigation will have to play a significant role in the required increase in food production, and in providing one of the principle pathways out of poverty;
  • environmental concerns with respect to drainage of rainfed, or irrigated land;
  • the mining of groundwater resources for irrigated agriculture production in the arid and semi-arid zone.

This concept note will focus on four aspects:

  • population, population growth and food production;
  • agriculture: what role for development? which linkages with water?
  • water for agriculture: where do we stand? which future?
  • water for agriculture: which may be the priorities?

Background data to this concept note are summarised in Annex I.