With water scarcity emerging as a global concern, we simply cannot continue the water-intense methods of the past. Yet, as human numbers increase, more food needs to be produced with the same - or shrinking - land. This calls for smarter, thriftier ways of using freshwater and increasing water's productivity in agriculture, without damaging the environment, or undermining food security, jobs or health.
The CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) has brought together dozens of researchers, policy makers and local communities in Africa, Asia and South America to look for practical solutions through action research. We travel to eight of its benchmark river basins to find out what has been accomplished - and what remains to be done -- to grow more food with less water.
It takes large volumes of water to grow rice, but old habits have to change in a world running short of water. Rice farmers in Thailand are adopting a new method, System of Rice Intensification (SRI), to achieve more crop with less seeds and water - but without damaging the environment. It involves using mulch, inter-cropping and transplanting rice earlier than usual.