Six key principles for improving agricultural water productivity
Over two billion people already live in areas experiencing high water stress, and that number is expected to grow as a combination of climate change, population growth and unsustainable production and consumption patterns takes its toll. At the heart of the unfolding crisis is food production, which currently accounts for around 70% of global water withdrawals and can reach more than 90% in agrarian economies. Getting agricultural water use right is essential to strengthening both water and food security worldwide – a key prerequisite for sustainable development and resilient societies.
However, past measures to increase water productivity have delivered mixed results, providing tangible benefits in some areas while simultaneously producing negative outcomes in others. For example, improvements in irrigation efficiency have often paradoxically resulted in an overall rise in agricultural water consumption, taking water from other users (notably the environment) and further exacerbating water scarcity.
Photo credit: Hamish John Appleby/IWMI