There is nothing more essential to life on Earth than water. Water is needed for drinking, agriculture, industry, domestic use and a host of other activities. However, not every region in the world is blessed with abundant water resources. Of the earth’s total water resources, only around 3% is fresh water. Less than 1% of this fresh water is available for human consumption.
Destruction of forests, global warming, erratic rainfall and reckless and unscientific use of water in agriculture and industry have resulted in water scarcity in several regions of the world. Groundwater tables have declined in many areas.
UNESCO’s new World Water Development Report says that 3.6 billion people currently live in places that can suffer from water scarcity for at least one month of the year. It projects that the figure will rise to five billion, which is about half of the world’s predicted 10 billion population by 2050. While innovations in things like irrigation and desalination will help deliver water to some people, UNESCO argues that natural methods that trap water in soils could help protect 1.7 billion people from water scarcity.
About 400 million urban dwellers currently face water shortage. This number is slated to go up to 1 billion by 2050 due to rising urban population and the impact of climate change. The percentage of people living in urban areas will rise from the present 55% to 68% by 2050.
Now, people and experts around the world are exploring ways and means to conserve water in every field. Micro-irrigation has become an important method of conserving water in agriculture. Across the world, governments are implementing large scale micro-irrigation projects to save water. There are several other modern agricultural practices today that emphasise on the conservation of water and sustainable farming.
Hydroponics is one such modern agricultural practice that can pave the way for sustainable farming in a significant way in the days ahead. Hydroponics requires no soil for the plants to grow. Water is its growing medium. Hydroponic greenhouses use about 10 times less water than a field crop. Hydroponics is also useful in dense urban areas, where land is scarce and expensive.
In India, Farms2050 has been established to promote hydroponic farming and make India a leading hydroponics player.