The promise of solar desalination for agriculture

By Peter Kovalsky

The Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) forum on ‘solar technologies for agriculture’ was held at the FAO headquarters in Rome, April 12-13. It brought together representatives from the FAO across the world, NGO’s, researchers, the finance industry, and international organizations working on the application of solar for small scale agriculture.

The promise of solar desalination

The suggestion that solar can be used to power desalination has only recently popped up on the FAO radar and this was the first forum to feature it as a session theme. It was an honour to be one of the invited speakers to this session to share with the world our story on solar desalination. When preparing the PowerPoint slides for this talk I was intrigued by the session title “the promise of solar desalination”. Was a promise made, and if so, by who, where, when, and what were the underlying reasons for such a promise to be made?

In the absence of any further information I deduce the following answers:

Who has made or will make this promise?

The group of presenter’s fortunate enough to be presenting at the session.

Where and when?

At this particular forum session in Rome April 2018.

Why is such a promise necessary?

The world will soon have 9 billion people but not enough resources to meet the demand of feeding this many people based on technology available today. If climate change is factored into this predicament, we have additional problems created by sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion into agricultural land. We also face drought and salinity impacts in various parts of the world, both positive impacts and negative impacts. To make the promise of food security to the world we will be forced to make many promises. One is the promise that we can use alternative sources of water for agriculture to increase crop yield. These alternate sources of water will be too salty for some crops and will require cost-effective and novel methods to reduce the salinity to useful levels.

Am I comfortable making this promise?

Please watch the session to find out.

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