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Global Irrigated Area at Record Levels, But Expansion Slowing
In 2009, the most recent year for which global data are available from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 311 million hectares in the world was equipped for irrigation but only 84 percent of that area was actually being irrigated, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). As of 2010, the countries with the largest irrigated areas were India (39 million hectares), China (19 million), and the United States (17 million), writes report author Judith Renner.
The irrigation sector claims about 70 percent of the freshwater withdrawals worldwide. Irrigation can offer crop yields that are two to four times greater than is possible with rainfed farming, and it currently provides 40 percent of the world’s food from approximately 20 percent of all agricultural land.
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