4,000 Liters of Water for 1 Kilogram of Rice : Shouldn’t We Start Changing Our Eating Patterns Now?

Elpidio V.Peria
23 March 2013

In commemoration of the global celebration of World Water Day yesterday, 22 March 2013, we should be reminded of how much water we are currently using for our supposedly modern daily lives.

In a recent climate-related meeting held in Quezon City, a senior Department of Agriculture official bandied about the figure of 4,000 liters of water needed to produce 1 kg of rice.

This fact alone, according to him, should highlight the need for us to start finding ways to reduce our consumption of water, and perhaps to start weaning ourselves away from eating rice – a horrible notion and unthinkable option for a typical Pinoy who usually will not function well without consuming rice.

He further said we should now start exploring ways where we should be getting familiar with root crops and perhaps like it with gusto as much as we find rice an indispensable part of our daily meal.

Wondering how useful water is in our daily lives? Stephen Leahy of Interpress Service in a recent news release on water security mentions that it takes 10,000 litres to make your jeans while another three big bathtubs of water was needed for your two-eggs-toast-coffee breakfast this morning.

Going back to food-related facts, the website http://unwater.org mentions that 1 kg of beef will need around 15,000 liters of water while a cup of coffee will need around 140 liters of water (Hoekstra and Chapagain, 2008).
Compounding this set of grim statistics, according to the website http://unwater.org, water availability is expected to decrease in many regions of the world, yet future global agricultural water consumption alone is estimated to increase by some 19% by 2050, and will be even greater in the absence of any technological progress or policy intervention.
Water for irrigation and food production constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources. Agriculture accounts for ~70% of global freshwater withdrawals (up to 90% in some fast-growing economies).
We haven’t even started figuring out how much water we will consume to provide for our power generation, and even industrial activities and truly, we should be alarmed at the way we have not realized how much important water is in our daily lives.
But like most things, we will only know how important water is, if it’s gone. We still have our water now, even if more and more we buy it in bottled form, so perhaps this is not yet an issue for most of us. For now.

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