Africa: 500 million people without water security
Around one third of the people on the African continent live without safe access to water. According to the United Nations, even in the most water-rich regions of the continent there is insufficient water security. In addition, the large groundwater reserves in Africa are virtually unused. In the most recent World Water Report, the UN therefore calls for intelligent use of groundwater.
Monday, June 27, 2022
Egypt, Botswana, Gabon, Mauritius and Tunisia are considered the five most water-secure African countries. However, according to the United Nations, they too have “only a modest level of water security”. In contrast, Somalia, Chad and Niger have the lowest water security on the continent.
Better use of groundwater
Groundwater plays a crucial role in the water supply of many countries. However, according to the most recent United Nations World Water Report, there is a lack of knowledge in many places. This leads to overexploitation and unsustainable management of groundwater. In many regions of the world - especially Asia - groundwater is used intensively for agricultural production. Groundwater levels in China and South Asia are falling rapidly.
In contrast, the African continent hardly uses its rich groundwater reserves. Only three percent of the arable land is equipped with irrigation systems, of which only five percent use groundwater. The United Nations is calling for more investment in Africa's water infrastructure. Better access to groundwater could contribute to improved productivity and be a catalyst for economic development.
New Breeding Technologies
Resource scarcity is one of the major megatrends with which the world must deal. Extreme weather events are increasing and periods of drought are getting longer. All the more important are innovative technologies that help farmers cope with these climatic challenges, such as breeding of more heat-tolerant plant varieties or novel pesticides and biostimulants that help plants cope better with abiotic stress. Breeding of resilient varieties needs to be accelerated, which is why the approval of genome editing, for example, is so essential.
Pesticides are to blame for an increase in brain tumours in children in the Zürcher Weinland and the Bernese Seeland, according to a study carried out three years ago. Experts commissioned by the federal government have now come to a different conclusion: the results could also have been accidental.
The potato harvest is not looking good this year. There is a shortfall of 100,000 tonnes, as reported by the Aargauer Zeitung. According to potato producers, this is a drop of 30 per cent compared to the long-term average.
The EU Commission has decided to endorse the assessment of the European Food Safety Authority, which found no critical problem areas regarding the effects of glyphosate on the environment and human and animal health. The EU Commission's science-based decision to extend the authorisation for a further 10 years is also a rejection of the scare campaigns by Greenpeace and Co.
More and more invasive pests are spreading in Switzerland. The most recent example is the Asian hornet, which poses a major threat to the native honey bee. But other invasive species also threaten agriculture and biodiversity. Control measures are many and varied. But pesticides (plant protection products and biocides) remain an important tool in the fight against the pests.