Food Security and Irrigation in 21st Century
Every individual should have access to healthy, sufficient and secure food to meet his/her needs in accordance with his/her belief and culture. This a basic, indispensable and global right.
However, today it is hard to mention about a fair access to food. In 1996, access to food was declared as a human right in World Food Summit and a target was set to reduce by half the current number of people suffering from hunger (840 millions) by the year 2015.
But, by the year 2006, rather than a decrease, it was observed that number of people suffering from hunger increased to 862 million.The year 2007 was then became a year with deep impacts on World Food Summit. It was a year with rapid increases and peaks in unprocessed food and crude oil prices. While the food prices are taking a breath and stopped to increase in the year 2008, a Global Economic Crisis emerged. Thus, just because of “Food Crisis”, 75 million increase was observed in the number of people suffering from hunger and another 105 million people were added to this number just because of the Global Economic Crises and the total number ultimately reached to 1 Billion 40 million people by the end of the year 2008.Along with those increasing trends, UN issued a FOOD ALERT in the year 2008 and prepared FOOD EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN and indicated that humanity was rapidly dragged to hunger.
Existing State in Food Security
Although current resources of the world are able to feed the entire world population, there is still an increase in hunger worldwide. Global food security is faced to the greatest problem in its recent history. Being mostly in undeveloped countries, over 1 billion people are away from accessing sufficient food even to meet their basic nutritional needs. Such a case may be labeled as “Shame of World”.
Differentiating life styles of people through transition of countries from agricultural society to industrial society also differentiated their nutritional styles and foods they consumed.
It is impossible to limit secure food supply with a certain geographical regions in today’s globalized world trade. Moreover, although we assume that we have fully supplied such a case in our country, rapid continental translocation of both the goods and people within hours increase the dimensions of the risks and make the problem as a global one. Adding lack of consumer training, unfair income distribution, “under the counter” food production activities like national problems of developing countries into currently existing ones, it is highly clear to see how difficult to provide Food Security.
Negative issues in soil and water resources require the use irrigation practices to increase productions and yield per unit area. Irrigation is the insurance of food security.
Previous researches indicated that 20% increase in irrigated lands worldwide might provide about 50% increase in food production, thus might provide a solution to current starvation problems of the world.
Green Revolution has fed the 20th century. What will happen in 21st century?
Widespread of irrigation was the key element of food production of the 20th
century. Despite the various negative issues brought by the green revolution, it has fed the 20th
century. As long as another method or alternative is developed rather than irrigation in food production, its sustainability should be provided in current century. However, there are several obstacles infront of sustainability. While the visible ones are sufficient to worry about this issue, there are also invisible and future-expected ones in long run.
In case of changing nutritional habits
In the future, not only the world population will increase, but also nutritional habits of the people will change together with ever-changing and developing world. For instance, nutritional habits of Chinese consumer groups are changing and there will be billions of people with desire to eat meat.
For a healthy nutrition, vegetables come in front of beef. However, the radius of the warnings in this issue remains limited. Such a demand is directly related to water management. While 200 liters water is required to grow 1 kg of cereal in modern agriculture, 20 000 liters are required to produce 1 kg beef. The beef production of 44 million tons in 1950s increased to 217 million tons in 1999 together with the increasing populations and it is still increasing day by day. Beside the population increase, changes in consumption patterns will also be effective in future beef consumption of people.
While the annual cereal consumption per capita of Americans is around 800 kilos, the value is 400 kilos in Italy and less than 200 kilos in Japan.
In case of increasing climate irregularities
Agricultural lands and yields will decrease together with increasing climate irregularities and with the impacts of industrialization.Through the middle of the current century, in general, the places in which foods are produced and consumed will not be the same countries. It is a new policy area in itself and will emerge as a problem among countries especially in decreased food production periods of the world.
Within this framework, prospective famines to be experienced in the 21st century will be different from the grisly famines of the past and future ones will have stronger social and international impacts.
Around 40% of world food production comes from irrigated lands. Those lands constitute about 17% of world total agricultural lands. In other words, 60% of food production comes from rain-fed dry agricultural practices. Irregular precipitations due to climate change have increased the concerns about irrigation practices. The problems to be observed in rain-fed agriculture because of irregular precipitations will itself make the picture more miserable. What is the world, making the future ambiguous with regard to water and food security, is trying to do?
Is the food security under threat?
The answer of this question is clear forthe developed world. Developed countries are preparing strategic plans to overcome the drought periods with a minimum loss or impact over their economies on one hand; and trying to hold and widen their controls over global dominances together with new Food Geopolitics on the other hand.However, on the other side of the coin, less developed world is losing 35 000 people most of which are the children under the age of 5 in every day.
Behind the increases in food prices, there are climate irregularities effecting supply-demand- (production/consumption) balances, rapid increase in world population, transition in life styles of middle-income groups from cereal-based nutrition to beef-based nutrition. However, two more pressures were added into the above mentioned issues. The first one is the allocation of fertile lands for ethanol (bio-fuel) production and the second one is revolutionary energy source, the rock gas (shale gas) with intensive water use throughout the production process.
Less developed regions of the world, especially the continent of Africa are postulant to severe problems with regard to food security in the 21st
century. Such a case will result from insufficient agricultural irrigations and will widespread through the relationships among energy-water-food. The increase in relationships of basic food production with energy and water will let all these three strategic issues to trigger crisis in those three issues in the 21st
century.The products with GMOs will increase. Particularly the climate irregularities and several other items will increase the significance of irrigated agriculture. Such significance will bring together various improvements in agricultural techniques such as the efficient water use, rainwater harvest technologies, re-use of drainage waters, production of salt-resistant crops and plants.
Necdet Buzbaş Food Security in Turkey and EU: Synergy of the Partnership, 28th
Turkish-EU Joint Advisory Committee Meeting Edinburg, Scotland, 13-14 September 2010.
Dursun YILDIZ Özdemir ÖZBAY Dr. Nüvit SOYLU AGRICULTURAL IRRIGATION FOR DEVELOPMENT
–Legal-Technical-Economic-Political Soil-water-energy Working Group, 2011