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Water Productivity in Agriculture

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CA framing question: What are the options and consequences for improving water productivity in agriculture?

Producing more crops, livestock, fish and forest products per unit of agricultural water use holds a key to both food and environmental security. A variety of options exist for improving the productivity of water in agriculture through breeding, better management practices and supporting policies and institutions. The CA aims to identify a range of means to enhance water productivity in agriculture, assess their potential and the consequences of their adoption. The production systems to be considered can vary from purely rainfed to irrigated, and from dry zones to semi-humid monsoonal areas. Off-site effects of the interventions, from production and environment point of view will also be considered.

The chapter purpose: To convey the most important messages from the field of water productivity in agriculture to the water, food & environment communities.

Key issues

1) What are the most important (and underrated?) trends and underlying processes with respect to water productivity, its potential and role in water management for agriculture as well as in supporting livelihoods & environment?

2) What are the most promising options available to enhance water productivity in agriculture in different systems and their consequences? 

There is already extensive knowledge on these issues as is shown in the CA CABI book “Water Productivity in Agriculture: Limits and Opportunities for Improvement” published in 2003. However, considerable debate continues and many unknowns exist.

A participatory writing process

The CA is designed as a learning process, engaging networks of stakeholders to produce knowledge synthesis. The chapter writing team favour a regular consultation while writing their synthesis chapter.

To know more about the writing process of the chapter [ca forum - water productivity

Internet Links

Information from the CGIAR Challenge Program:

“Theme 1: Crop Water Productivity Improvement”


FAO Agriculture 21 Magazine : “Raising Water Productivity


Worldwatch Institute: State of the World – Trends and Facts: Boosting Water Productivity,

FAO Chapter on Water Productivity in Unlocking the Water Potential of Agriculture