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Sustainable Management of Water Resources in Agriculture

image of Sustainable Management of Water Resources in Agriculture

Agriculture is the major user of water in most countries. It also faces the enormous challenge of producing almost 50% more food by 2030 and doubling production by 2050. This will likely need to be achieved with less water, mainly because of growing pressures from urbanisation, industrialisation and climate change. In this context, it will be important in future for farmers to receive the right signals to increase water use efficiency and improve agricultural water management, while preserving aquatic ecosystems.  

This report calls on policy makers to recognise the complexity and diversity of water resource management in agriculture and the wide range of issues at stake. And it gives them the tools to do so, offering a wealth of information on recent trends and the outlook for water resource use in agriculture, including the impacts of climate change. It examines the policy experiences of OECD countries in managing their water resources for agriculture, with focus on: the extent to which countries subsidise the supply of water to farmers; flood and drought risk policies; and institutional organisation and governance as it relates to water and the agricultural sector. The report offers concrete recommendations on what countries should be doing and why. 

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Introduction

Water serves a range of productive, environmental and social purposes in the agricultural sector and wider economy. Governments, water managers and consumers/users have a role to ensure that mechanisms and actions are in place to make certain that water is allocated and used to achieve socially and economically beneficial and efficient outcomes in a manner that is environmentally effective and sustainable. But management of water resources in agriculture is being severely tested with rising food and energy prices, growing competition for water resources between different users, an expanding global population, and concerns related to climate change.

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