What is the news
The State of the world’s land and water resources for food and agriculture (SOLAW 2021) by FAO has been recently released.
Some key findings of report
1) Current patterns of agricultural intensification are not proving sustainable
Grassland and shrub-covered areas used to graze animals or as sources of fodder have declined, due to conversion to cropland.
The area of irrigated crops has doubled while that of rain fed crops has only increased by 2.6 per cent in the time period 2000-2019.
Although cropland covers only 13 per cent of the global land cover classes, degraded cropland accounts for 29 per cent of all degraded areas.
Soil salinity is estimated to take up 1.5 million ha of cropland out of production each year.
Increase in use of chemical (non-organic) inputs; uptake of farm mechanization; and overall impact of higher mono-cropping and grazing intensities are harming the agricultural land.
2) Population growth and Urbanisation-
-Population increases have meant that agricultural land available per capita for crops and animal husbandry declined by 20 per cent between 2000 and 2017.
-The rapid growth of cities had a significant impact on land and water resources. More than 55 per cent of the world’s population are urban dwellers. This meant encroachment on good agricultural land.
-Due to increased population in the last two decades, there was a decline in global per capita internal renewable water resources (IRWR) of about 20 per cent.
-Internal renewable water resource (IRWR) is that part of the water resources (surface water and groundwater) generated from the precipitation received by the country.
Progress made in reducing the number of undernourished people in the early part of the 21st century has been reversed. The number has risen to 768 million in 2020 from 604 million in 2014.
By 2050, agriculture will need to produce almost 50 per cent more food, livestock fodder and biofuel than in 2012 to satisfy global demand and keep on track to achieve “zero hunger” by 2030.
Source- This post is based on the article “Land water resources are at a breaking point-Report” published in Livemint on 14th Dec 2021.