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Title: Food Production in Arid Regions as Related to Salinity

item Suarez, Donald

Submitted to: Government Publication/Report
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2009
Publication Date: 1/1/2010
Citation: Suarez, D.L. 2010. Food production in arid regions as related to salinity. Perspectives on Political and Social Regional Stability Impacted by Global Crises – A Social Science Context. White Paper published by Strategic Multi-layer Assessment (SMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Directorate. Pages 178-183.

Interpretive Summary: Irrigated agriculture in arid and semi-arid regions of the world is critical to meeting the food needs of these regions, which are often characterized by high population densities. Current fresh water use in these regions is not sustainable, indicating that even maintaining existing food production in these regions will be challenging. Present economic conditions do not make it feasible to utilize desalinated water for food production, with the exception of a few specialty crops. Alternative water supplies for irrigation, specifically reuse of treated wastewater and brackish and saline ground waters, are available in many locations. and will need to be utilized. Improved crop varieties, alternative crops and improved management practices will all be necessary to sustain food production at current levels in these arid regions. This information is of interest to agricultural specialists and planning officials concerned about world food security.

Technical Abstract: Arid and semi arid regions of the world are generally associated with high population density and lower than average per capita incomes and living standards. These regions are vulnerable to food shortages due to current, unsustainable use of fresh water for irrigation and soil salinization. This paper discusses the issue of water supply, the impact of salinity, potential for water reuse both of irrigation drainage water and municipal waste water and utilization of saline waters for crop production.