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Cereals are by far the most important source of food throughout the world, either directly for human consumption or indirectly in the form of animal feed for livestock products consumed as food. With world population set to rise to nine billion by 2050, there is an urgent need to examine ways to increase cereal production. Indeed recently the future of cereal production and consumption has been complicated by rising energy prices and the economics of biofuels, which are competing for the use of cereals. One way to increase cereal production is by the more effective use of marginal dryland areas, many of which are particularly vulnerable to water shortages due to increased demand for water and to climate change.
This book reviews the potential for increased cereal production in drylands across the world, from the USA, Australia and Southern Europe to Asia and Africa. It describes how improved water conservation, water harvesting and investment options can contribute to this, and suggests policies for the more efficient use of existing natural resources in order to lessen the dependence of agriculture on further irrigation development.
It addresses the crucial issue of the global need to increase cereal production for food and fuel. It sets this in the context of improving the productivity of drylands, which are especially vulnerable during times of water shortages and climate change. The authors are leading authorities on these subjects, combining the expertise of FAO and a leading research institute on dryland agriculture. It is illustrated in colour throughout with maps, photographs and detailed tabulated data.