Africa: “Efficient Use of Water Critical” – Clinton

Washington — The world will experience a water crisis if more ways to efficiently use the resource are not found, says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
water efficiencyClinton spoke June 12 at a State Department ceremony announcing Israeli water and soil expert Daniel Hillel as winner of the 2012 World Food Prize. Hillel was named in honor of his 40 years of work developing microirrigation methods for arid regions, opening those regions to farming. The methods consistently apply small, accurate amounts of water to plant roots, producing major increases in crop yields and conserving water.

Drawn to the critical need for water in arid regions during his years as a child living in the highlands of the Negev desert, Hillel developed the new approach to provide low-volume, high-frequency measured water to crops.

Hillel’s methods were first applied in the Middle East, then spread to Africa, Asia and the Americas.

“Today, farmers using microirrigation produce high-yield, nutritious crops on more than 6 million hectares worldwide,” Clinton said. She noted that more water is used for agriculture than for any other purpose.

Clinton said the Obama administration has prioritized agricultural development through its Feed the Future food-security initiative. Feed the Future focuses on “finding ways to do more with less and deliver results to people in need,” she said. Since 2011, Feed the Future has dedicated more than $100 million to promote water productivity in agricultural development.

One example of a Feed the Future effort is in Senegal, where the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Peace Corps developed a program to teach farmers how to reduce the amount of water they lose through evaporation while tripling their maize yields.

Nearly 1 billion people around the world go to bed hungry every day, and by 2050 the world’s population is estimated to reach 9 billion, Clinton said. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that in that time agricultural production must increase by 60 percent and the demand for water to grow food will increase by 20 percent. Yet the world’s water supply is finite, Clinton said. “Doctor Hillel’s work will become even more important as we grapple with how to feed the world’s growing population,” she added.

“Scarce food resources can lead to panic buying, countries disrupting or even stopping their food trades, and spikes in the prices of food,” Clinton said. “That can then lead to public unrest or violent protests.”

At the G8 summit outside Washington in May, President Obama announced the latest agriculture partnership, called the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. The G8 consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“The Green Revolution saved as many as a billion people from starvation. It is up to us to make sure we save the next billion,” Clinton said.

Source: allAfrica (By Kathryn Mcconnell)

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