A lack of water for food production is the biggest challenge for farming – at home and abroad over the next 40 years – said leading Norfolk agricultural consultant Martin Collison.
He warned that by 2050, half the global population would be living in water-stressed countries.
Within 16 years, world food demand was predicted to increase by 50pc, energy demand by 45pc and water demand by 30pc, said Mr Collison, of Tilney All Saints, near King’s Lynn. “The challenge we’re facing is not just one for Norfolk, they’re global concerns,” he added.
He told 40 leading farmers at Poringland, near Norwich, that availability of water would be vital to the farming and food sector. “I think we have got to make the industry’s case in terms of economics and jobs. Four counties, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk produce about 38 per cent of potato, fruit and vegetable output of the UK. It supports something about 30,000 jobs in the four counties. We need to be putting hard numbers to make our case.”
Globally, farmers used about 75pc of all the available water. “The reality is that unless we do something about the way we secure and use that water on a global basis, we won’t be able to feed ourselves in 20 years’ time. If we don’t secure the water to grow the crops in the UK, our impact on water supplies on a global basis will go up,” said Mr Collison.
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