Farmers, governments and regulators should take preventive action to improve water management, because climate change will tighten water supplies for agriculture, the United Nations’ food agency said.
Climate change will be bringing higher temperatures and more frequent droughts, reducing water availability especially in water-scarce regions, while melting glaciers will eventually cut water supplies in major producing areas, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on June 9.
“Both the livelihoods of rural communities as well as the food security of city populations are at risk,” FAO assistant director general for natural resources Alexander Mueller said in a statement.
Countries should improve management of their water resources ahead of the expected changes, and farmers should adopt more efficient cropping patterns, the FAO said in its Climate Change, Water and Food Security report.
Farmers can reduce water use and optimize irrigation by turning to earlier or later planting, while yields and productivity can be improved by shifting to soil moisture conservation practices, the report said.
Planting deep-rooted crops would allow farmers to better exploit available soil moisture.
Mixed agro-forestry systems also hold promise because they sequester carbon and offer wind protection, improved soil conservation and shade, which reduces ground temperatures and evaporation.