Study finds irrigation more common on city farms than rural farms, intensifying water demands in sprawling urban zones

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (13 November 2014) Food production globally is taking on an increasingly urban flavor, according to a new study that finds 456 million hectares—an area about the size of the European Union—is under cultivation in and around the world’s cities, challenging the rural orientation of most agriculture research and development work.

“This is the first study to document the global scale of food production in and around urban settings and it is surprising to see how much the farm is definitely getting closer and closer to the table,” said Pay Drechsel, a scientist at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and co-author of the study, which was published in the November 2014 issue of the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The analysis, a collaboration between IWMI, under the CGIAR Research Program on Water Land and Ecosystems, the University of California-Berkeley, and Stanford University, is the first global assessment to quantify urban croplands and document the resources they consume, namely water, which has both environmental and food safety implications.

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