Water management: more crop per drop

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Basin Water Management: Understanding Water Productivity

This research theme seeks to provide a better understanding of the tradeoffs and options in agricultural water management at the basin scale and contribute to improved equity and productivity in water use through the development of appropriate tools and methodologies for analysis and management. Key Research Areas Sustainable water use in agriculture: To develop, test and apply analytical frameworks, water accounting methodologies and supporting tools to quantify and manage water resources for agriculture at a basin scale and to assist managers apply them in selected basins. Understanding water productivity at basin scale: To understand the impacts of field, farm and system level improvements in land and water productivity at the basin scale and to provide methods and tools for planners to develop appropriate policies and supporting strategies to increase net basin level water productivity. Institutions, policies and economic instruments for better water management at a basin scale : To analyze, contextualize, evaluate and recommend appropriate institutional arrangements to manage water resources for agriculture at the basin scale, over a range of contrasting conditions, and with special emphasis on the balance between sustainable and productive use of water. Historically, water management for agriculture was equated with the development and operation of water systems and structures, largely for irrigation. However, the rapid growth of urban centers and industry has led to increasing competition for water across sectors. Thus, the key challenge now for agricultural water management is achieving “more crop per drop” ─ an approach that marked a paradigm shift in IWMI’s thinking on how to increase food production for a growing population while simultaneously meeting the water quality and quantity requirements of other economic and environmental sectors.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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