Agriculture and groundwater: feeding billions from the ground Up

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) will be hosting a panel discussion titled Agriculture and Groundwater: Feeding Billions from the Ground Up on Friday, January 20, 2017 at 10 am at CityCube, Berlin. This discussion will be part of the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture and will focus on the global status and trends of groundwater use for agriculture. Expert panelists will work to identify policies, institutions and technologies that could address the growing challenges surrounding agricultural groundwater use with a focus on China, India and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Groundwater has become a central element of global water and food security, supplying around 40% of all irrigated areas globally. Groundwater extraction is greatest in the three largest staple-food producing countries (China, India and the US) but is also rapidly increasing in Sub-Saharan Africa. Agricultural groundwater use is particularly important in regions with increasingly variable water supplies, acting as a natural insurance mechanism and powerful climate change adaptation option.

However, the combination of cheap pumping technology and poor governance of groundwater resources has contributed to groundwater depletion, where extraction surpasses recharge, a phenomenon that threatens future food production, food security, and rural livelihoods. Intensive agricultural groundwater use in many regions also jeopardizes environmental sustainability through pollution, salinization and streamflow reduction.

The session will be chaired and moderated by Dr. Joachim Von Braun, the director of the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn. The panelists will be:

  • Prof. Dr. Petra Doell, Goethe Universität Frankfurt
  • Dr. Karen Villholth, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Pretoria, South Africa
  • Dr. Guillaume Gruere, OECD, Paris, France
  • Dr. Jinxia Wang, Peking University, Beijing, China
  • Dr. Claudia Ringler, IFPRI, Washington DC, USA

The Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA), which this year focuses on Agriculture and Water – Key to Feeding the World, will take place in Berlin from January 19-21, 2017. Register to participate in this year's GFFA.