UN agriculture chief calls for stronger water management, improved access for small farmers

Millions of family farmers in developing countries already suffer from lack of access to freshwater. Photo: FAO/Giulio Napolitano

20 January 2017 – The head of the United Nations agricultural agency today urged the international community to promote more efficient use of water and to take steps to secure water access, especially for poor family farmers.

Addressing the annual Global Forum for Food and Agriculture now underway in Berlin, the Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, said that growing water scarcity is one of the leading challenges to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Agriculture and food systems bring all of these global goals together and provide opportunities for a transformational change,” Mr. Graziano da Silva told participants at the Summit, being held this year around the theme of water and agriculture.

One of the 17 SDGs aims to improve water access for all people, and water is a theme of other goals related to poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and climate change.

In his speech, Mr. Graziano de Silva noted that as the world population is expected to exceed nine billion by 2050, and with millions of family farmers already lacking access to freshwater, conflicts over water resources will increase.

“It is time to act. Improved management of natural resources translates into better livelihoods now and in the future,” the FAO Director-General urged.

Last December, the UN agency he heads launched a global framework for coping with water scarcity in agriculture. It aims to support the development and implementation of policies and programmes for sustainable use of water in farming.


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