World Water Day: International Forum Focuses on Water Use in Agriculture

"Making every drop count" . The slogan carried by the last report of the UN is at the heart of International Water Forum from March 18 to 23, 2018. In Brasilia, it brings together nearly 40,000 people Heads of State, mayors of cities around the world, as well as scientists and environmental activists. The purpose of the second day of the event is as ambitious as it is necessary: ​​to rationalize the use of water in agricultural practices.

The report of the UN estimates that by 2050, about 5.7 billion people could run out of water. We know that agriculture is particularly greedy for this resource. "At a time when we are under constant pressure on the quantity of water available, it is important to do everything possible to use these resources in the most efficient way" stressed Claudia Sadoff, Director of the International Institute for Water Management, with headquarters in Sri Lanka . She participated in a round table on how we consume the available water.

Visitors to the Citizen Village, on the sidelines of the Forum in Brasilia, where we discover the need to clean the oceans. © AFP – Sergio LIMA

Brazil is home to 18% of the world's drinking water

It is divided into two categories: "blue" water, which is found in lakes and rivers, and "green" water, contained in soils and woods. The Brazil devotes for example 50% of the water of its rivers and lakes for agriculture. He is one of the world's leading suppliers of foods. Between 1990 and 2015, the total volume of agricultural production more than doubled, and that of animal production tripled, according to the report "OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2015-2024" of ONU. This therefore represents an increase in water consumption. "We want to reduce this quantity, develop more efficient plants, improve production systems and create more efficient equipment" explained to AFP Mauricio Lopes, President of Embrapa, the National Institute of Agricultural Research. According to him, "there is a boom in water management practices to save this resource, and also in plant genetics" "this revolution is already here"

Visitors discover a reenactment of life on the Brazilian base in Antarctica, on the sidelines of the Forum in Brasilia. © AFP – Sergio LIMA

Brazil's agro-industrial sector remains highly criticized by conservationists. The country practices a massive deforestation : nearly 8000 km² disappeared in 2016 according to the National Research Institute in the Amazon. Mr. Lopes wished to emphasize that 66% of its territory remains "still" covered with native plants. The stakes are high: the South American giant has the richest biodiversity in the world and is home to 18% of the world's drinking water. Biodiversity and water are deeply linked to each other. "Brazil is an extremely diverse country, there are six biomasses, we have very sensitive areas and to maintain this biological wealth, we need water". "We must lead an intelligent management of the water resource in order not to lose (this) equilibrium" however, he acknowledged.

Technology to improve uses

The drone is increasingly used by farmers. © AFP – François Nascimbeni

In the face of criticism, Brazil's Confederation of Agriculture and Fisheries (CNA) President Joao Marins also defended himself on the occasion of the International Water Forum . "We want to take advantage of this moment to demystify these subjects and prove that the rural producer takes care of the water and the earth more than anyone, because in the end, if it destroys the sources of water, he will destroy his own heritage "he pleaded, unveiling a new irrigation program.

In order to preserve water, technology can also be useful. Isabel Garcia Tejerina, the Spanish Minister of Agriculture, spoke of her use as a means of revitalizing the rural world, essential for food production. The tools it offers are varied: intelligent irrigation systems, drones satellites or agricultural machinery connected to databases. However, they remain little deployed on a global scale.