According to scientists, if all farmers apply water management methods, global food production can increase by around 41 percent. Researchers who wrote a paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters stated that ambitious water management strategies could improve irrigation improvements and could halve the world's food gap. This is a potential increase in yields that can provide half the calories needed to eradicate hunger around the world by 2050. To measure the impact of water-crop management techniques, this model considers rain and other climate data from 1901 to 2009 and simulates various scenarios irrigation improvement, soil moisture conservation and rainwater harvesting. Based on the most optimistic scenario, production can increase by more than 55 percent in many river areas between the Middle East, Central Asia, China, Australia, South Africa and North and South America.
Peter McCornick, deputy director general of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Sri Lanka, who was not involved in the study, said: The message I took from this paper is that with better water management, it is theoretically possible to increase food production without expand the area of land planted. McCornick added that NGOs and farmer organizations can use these findings to lobby the government to improve water management practices, promote techniques such as conserving soil moisture through mulch, collecting runoff water, digging water catching holes, terracing and improving irrigation equipment. Financing these changes requires support from policy makers, said lead author Jonas Jägermeyr, a geographer at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. However, agricultural water management has completely disappeared from the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). McCornick agreed there was a problem with SDG. For example, effective water use can contribute to Goal 2 regarding hunger, food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture, but plant water management is not explicitly mentioned.
Assefa Melesse, an environmental researcher at Florida International University in the United States, said that the model was useful, but caution about the conclusions above was needed. Water management can increase production, but technology alone can be disappointing in many cases, because other issues will overshadow its significance. For example, land degradation can reduce the effectiveness of water management efforts. In addition, introducing water infrastructure can trigger political conflicts about who controls these important resources. Some water management projects have been poorly designed and others have proved too expensive to maintain over time, arguing that such efforts must be planned at the community level to consider local challenges and preferences.