“There’s plenty of water in the universe without life, but nowhere is there life without water.”Sylvia A. Earle
Without water there is no life, it is as simple as that. When planets like Mars have been explored, rather than looking for life, they have looked for water or traces of it. Life on earth originated in that environment about 4,000 million years ago. ¾ of the earth is made up of water as well as almost 70% of the human body. People can survive for 5 to 7 days without water. Thousands of people and children around the world walk 200 million hours every day to find water and 2.2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. All this without considering that without water the millions and millions of hectares that feed us every day could not be planted.
On the other hand, water, especially that which falls from the sky, is generally a blessing, although there are times when it can generate misfortunes. According to the World Bank, 9 out of 10 natural disasters are related to water.
It is so critical for many countries that according to this organization, the GDP of some regions could be reduced by up to 6% by 2050 due to water losses related to agriculture, health, income, and property.
As we know, it would not be possible to grow anything without water; not even the little bean we watched grow in a glass jar in elementary school. Water is fundamental to feeding the planet. In 30 years, there will be more than 10 billion humans and we will have a much higher demand for food than we do today. 3.2 billion people currently live-in agricultural areas with drought and water problems, and as if this were not enough, 78% of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas that depend on agriculture.
Only 20% of the land that provides us with food has an irrigation system, but it produces 40% of the food and 55% of its value. This speaks to the urgent need to continue innovating and seeking to bring more and better irrigation systems to every corner of the world.
One of Sinaloa’s greatest blessings is its structured irrigation system, which has been developed for almost a century. With its 11 rivers and 11 dams, we are a privileged state for agriculture. I remember reading in the book “The Red Gold of Sinaloa” by Eduardo Frías Sarmiento, that our privileged position for decades in the production and export of food was not because we had the most fertile land, but because we knew how to plan and invest in time in the hydraulic development of the state.
This year we have been blessed with abundant rainfall. In fact, August was the state with the highest rainfall in Mexico with 339mm/m2. And from foreseeing a complicated year with the possible drought, the dams recovered considerably. As of this month, we are at 76% of their capacity, while last year, at this same time, we were at just under 56%. A considerable increase ensures the availability of this liquid for the current 2022-2023 season. Let’s remember that in previous years, producers have had to stop planting thousands of hectares or end harvests earlier due to lack of water.
Our main competitor in production, Florida, also had heavy rains, but unfortunately for its population, it was accompanied by Hurricane Ian and therefore by winds of up to 150 miles/hour. According to some publications, it was the most destructive hurricane since 1935. Thousands of acres of vegetables were damaged, which has driven prices sky-high. Supplies are also expected to remain low for several weeks.
In California, another important vegetable producer, the story is quite the opposite. They are going through a tremendous drought. California is the world’s leading producer of tomatoes for processing, accounting for 95% of U.S. production and 35% of world production. The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) reduced this year’s tomato production forecast from 12.2 million tons to 10.5 million tons because of the drought. It is worth noting that the last 3 years have been the driest on record in the history of this state.
As we have seen, water will never cease to play a major role in food production. And being farmers one of its main users (70% according to the World Bank), we have the responsibility to innovate in its use and preservation, without jeopardizing the food supply.