Freshwater Use

Agriculture accounts for about 70% of freshwater use, the majority of which is applied in irrigation activities. As the population grows, and the demand for food increases, the demand for water will increase also. Agricultural produce includes crops, livestock and fish.

Crops have specific water requirements dependant on local climate conditions. Cereals are an important food source in developing countries, and its production is expected to supply more than half the food consumed in the near future.

The livestock sector yields meat, dairy products and eggs. The production of meat, however, requires between five and twenty times more freshwater use than for cereals and other vegetative growth. Further, a large proportion of the cereal produced is used as animal feed.  The world will continue to raise livestock, but there is concern for how much the demand for meat and milk consumption will grow. There are already unhealthy levels of meat consumption in many areas around the globe.

United Nations Environment Programme
World Resources Institute, 2013-4, Creating A Sustainable Food Future: Interim Findings
Hoekstra, Arjen Y., 2012, The Hidden Water Resource Use Behind Meat And Dairy, Animal Frontiers II, 2, American Society of Animal Science