Agricultural water productivity for sustainable development

 

Photo credit: IWMI

Sprinkler irrigation used in Eastern Highlands on the Mozambique border to irrigate farms. Photo: David Brazier / IWMI

The “biography” of a bold idea

Adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has added new impetus to the far-reaching concept of agricultural water productivity. This is the idea that raising farm outputs or their value relative to the amount of water used in agriculture, by far the world’s biggest water consumer, is critical to address water scarcity.

SDG 6 (“ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”) includes a target (6.4) to “substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors.” For the first time, efficient water use has gained a prominent place on the international development agenda.

fulani-farmer-abdullah-ahjedis-daughter-demonstrating-how-she-takes-readings-from-rain-guage
Fulani farmer Abdullah Ahjedi’s daughter demonstrating how she takes readings from rain guage. Photo: Thor Windham-Wright / IWMI – http://g9jzk5cmc71uxhvd44wsj7zyx.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/fulani-farmer-abdullah-ahjedis-daughter-demonstrating-how-she-takes-readings-from-rain-guage.jpg

Bringing the idea to life

To help realize and track progress toward this target, researchers working with World Bank support have prepared a report that traces the theory and practice of improved water productivity in agriculture. They argue that future progress depends on making good use of past research.

Resulting from a study carried out by the Bank’s Water and Agriculture Global Practices, the new report (titled Beyond more crop per drop: Evolving thinking on agricultural water productivity) is a co-publication with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). The authors describe the origins of the water productivity concept (chronicling its evolution in IWMI’s work over two decades), the development of methods to measure it, efforts to put the concept to use through applied research and lessons learned.

Read the full article: IWMI

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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