Maximising the Potential of Wastewater in Agriculture

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March 24, 2017

Maximising the Potential of Wastewater in Agriculture

During World Water Day (22 March), FAO highlighted the opportunity that treated wastewater represents for agriculture, improved food security, and nutrition. Treated and reused wastewater can be a cost-effective and sustainable solution to water scarcity.

“We need to use water in agriculture in a more efficient, productive, equitable and environmentally friendly way where quality is not compromised,” FAO’s Deputy-Director General, Maria Helena Semedo, said at a World Water Day ceremony at the UN agency’s Rome headquarters. “We should maximise the potential of wastewater as a valuable and sustainable resource.”

While agriculture accounts for around 70 percent of freshwater withdrawals, only a small percentage of treated wastewater is being reused by agriculture. FAO is working with its member states to increase the reuse of treated wastewater in a safe and secure way.

In Jordan, for example, 90 percent of treated wastewater is used for irrigation, and in Israel treated wastewater accounts for nearly half of all water used for irrigation. At least 50 countries worldwide are known to use wastewater for irrigation, accounting for an estimated 10 percent of all irrigated land. However, data remains incomplete for many regions including Africa.

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