What crops need the most water?

Which crops need the most water

Regions experiencing severe water scarcity are responsible for growing more than 25% of the world's crops, reports the World Resources Institute (WRI). In many countries, farmers rely on groundwater to irrigate their crops, particularly during periods of limited rainfall, and water scarcity in drought-prone regions is exacerbating. Many people wonder which crops need the most water.

In this article we are going to tell you which crops need more water and what situation we currently have.

Which crops need the most water

California Almonds

california almonds

By 2050, according to the United Nations (UN), a staggering number of almost 5 billion people could suffer from water shortages as a direct consequence of climate change.

In regions with limited water supplies, there are certain foods that consume significant amounts of this precious resource. An example of this is almonds from California, USA.

California is responsible for growing about 80% of the world's supply of almonds. A study conducted between 2004 and 2015 found that a single almond in California needed an average of 12 liters of water to grow, and almond growers relied heavily on groundwater sources for irrigation.

Water depletion and degradation are important consequences of almond production, which consumes approximately 2 billion liters of water each year. During California's historic seven-year drought in 2011, a study by Cornell University revealed that the Central Valley, the prime region for almond growing, experienced an annual decline in groundwater levels of about half a meter.

The current situation is not sustainable, as farmers could face the consequences of an increase in almond prices if they continue to extract more groundwater. Going to excessive depths is not financially viable.

Almond growers are actively implementing measures to minimize water consumption, such as utilizing micro-irrigation systems that deliver water directly to the roots of the trees.

The avocados


Grow a single kilogram of avocado requires an average of 2.000 liters of water, which is approximately equivalent to 10 full bathtubs. The water consumption associated with one of Americans' favorite snacks is four times greater than the water needed to produce an equivalent amount of oranges or a kilogram of tomatoes. Global avocado imports have increased more than 10% each year for the last decade. This increase in demand has put significant pressure on farmers in the drought-stricken region of Petorca, Chile. These farmers have resorted to excessive extraction of groundwater and diversion of river water to meet demand.

In the dry region of Petorca, Each hectare of avocado plantation needs a daily supply of 100.000 liters of irrigation water. Avocados are crops with a long growth cycle, requiring a constant supply of water throughout the year. The rapid growth and export of avocados can only be sustained through the use of irrigation.

The dependence of avocado producers on irrigation and the impact of climate change could endanger food security in the region.

Sugar cane in Pakistan

sugar cane

Approximately 210 liters of water are needed to produce one kilogram of sugar cane. However, the water footprint of refined sugar is much larger, amounting to 1.780 liters of water per kilogram, which is equivalent to nine full bathtubs. There is no valid reason to grow sugarcane in Pakistan.

Sugar cane has a water consumption comparable to that of trees and forests. Furthermore, the sugar recovery rate from one liter of sugarcane juice is the lowest globally. Irrigation and groundwater reserves They represent 80% of the water used for sugarcane in Pakistan. The perception of water as a precious resource is undermined by government subsidies for groundwater extraction.

Punjab rice, India

While India holds the title of the world's largest rice exporter, certain regions of the country are witnessing a worrying trend where rice cultivation is depleting groundwater at a rate that is outpacing its replenishment.

Growing rice requires a staggering 1.670 liters of water per kilogram, the equivalent of the volume of eight bathtubs. It was found that numerous regions in India are currently facing long-term water shortages as a result of excessive water use for agriculture.

The rate of groundwater depletion in India witnessed a significant increase of 23% during the period from 2000 to 2010. India, being the largest consumer of groundwater globally (accounting for 24% of the total), faces the challenge to supply water to one billion people residing in areas with limited water resources.

The Indian government provides subsidies for diesel electric pumps, which allows farmers to maintain groundwater pumping during periods of low rainfall. The next two decades are of utmost importance for the country to address its water scarcity problem.

Bananas from the Dominican Republic

A substantial banana generally requires approximately 160 liters of water for growth. With more than 55% of world production, The Dominican Republic holds the prestigious title of being the largest producer of organic bananas in the world. However, the majority of farmers in this region continue to rely on inefficient irrigation techniques, making them susceptible to the detrimental effects of heavy rains and subsequent water shortages.

The country is currently experiencing a major drought that has caused a 50% decrease in banana production. The Dominican Republic could face a water shortage of more than 500 billion liters per year by 2050. It is important to note that agriculture is not solely responsible for this deficit.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about which crops need the most water and the current state of water scarcity.

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