A new study finds that small-scale irrigation schemes can protect millions of farmers from food insecurity and climate risks in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Since the rises in food prices in 2008 and beyond, food security is high on the development agenda. Recognizing that water is an essential element to achieve food security goals, several high level events this year put 'water and food security' as their main theme.

The global demand for water in agriculture will increase over time with increasing population, rising incomes, and changes in dietary preferences. Increasing demands for water by industrial and urban users, and water for the environment will intensify competition. At the same time, water scarcity is increasing in several important agricultural areas.

The authors of the recently completed Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture (CA) concluded that there are sufficient water resources to produce food for a growing population but that trends in consumption, production and environmental patterns, if continued, will lead to water crises in many parts of the world.

Rising energy prices, geopolitics and concerns over the impacts of green house gas emissions on climate change are increasing the demand for biofuel production. This paper explores the land and water implications of increased biofuel production globally and with special focus on these two important countries, using the WATERSIM model. It concludes that, although of minor concern at global level, local and regional impacts could be substantial.

Biofuels are being touted as a solution to rising fuel prices, growing energy demands, and the need to curb emissions of greenhouse gases. Governments have good reasons for promoting biofuels. Yet, a headlong rush into growing biofuel crops will bring its own problems.