Water Use Efficient Crops
Water is one of the most abundant resources on Earth, yet less than 1% of the world's water supply is available and safe for human consumption. Although fresh water is a renewable resource, in many areas of the world it isn't available where it's needed most. Even when water is available, the earth's climate, weather-related droughts and floods can cause variations in rainfall patterns and environmental conditions that affect water supply and demand. According to the World Resource Institute, 2.3 billion people, or 41% of the world population, live in river basins that are under water stress. This number is expected to rise to 3.5 billion people, 48% of the world population, by 2025, as strains on water use increase with population and agricultural development.
Agriculture is the primary use of water in the world, accounting for at least 70% of fresh water withdrawal. Irrigation has always been vital to the productivity of cropland and the production of food and feed for the world. Currently, only 17% of all cropland is irrigated but accounts for 40% of the world's crop production. Water allocation, usage and quality are changing as increased demand from agricultural and urban users strain the world's fresh water supply. These strains will continue to adversely impact the availability, cost and quality of water for farmers, increasing costs, reducing yields and threatening our food supply.
In addition to water supply and quality challenges, the practice of farming in drought-prone regions of the world is increasing because of changing rainfall patterns and the need for more agricultural land. Even in more agriculturally stable regions, droughts damage crop species, providing farmers no alternative for recovering lost product and labor. Drought has major implications for the profitability of agricultural operations due to reduced yields, crop failure and decreased amounts of land available for production. The total annual value of crop losses caused by drought is estimated to be in the range of $3–$7 billion in the United States, and $30–$50 billion worldwide.
Arcadia Biosciences is developing water use efficient and drought-resistant crops that will allow plants to produce high yields under reduced water conditions. Our goal is simple: more meals per gallon of water. Arcadia's drought-tolerant technology will improve farming efficiencies and reduce the demand for water in irrigated as well as arid regions. A reduced need for fresh water from agriculture will help ease the strain on water supplies and make more fresh water available for critical human needs.
Easing Poverty Through Agriculture
As part of its Millennium Development Goals to end poverty, the United Nations has set an objective to cut the proportion of the population without access to safe, sanitized drinking water in half by 2015. Arcadia recognizes agriculture’s impact and will bolster this goal through its water-use efficient crops, leaving fresh water for those who need it most.
Download the full UN report.