Water and Agriculture

Sustainability, Markets and Policies

image of Water and Agriculture

Agriculture is a major user of water and is responsible for much of its pollution. But the agricultural sector faces increasing competition for scarce water supplies from urban and industrial users and, increasingly, to sustain ecosystems.  This conference proceedings explores how both governments and the private sector can expand the role of markets to allocate water used by all sectors and to get agricultural producers to account for the pollution that their sector generates.




Agriculture’s use and impact on water resources involves complex trade-offs between economic, social and environmental demands under a wide range of institutional structures. Irrigated farming accounts for a major and growing share of farm production and rural employment in some OECD countries, but overuse of often scarce water resources is an increasing concern. Agriculture is a major source of water pollution but also contributes to ecosystem services (e.g. provision of habitat for some wildlife), for certain regions within some OECD countries. Agricultural production support and subsidies for variable inputs, especially for water and energy, continue to misalign farmer incentives and aggravate overuse and pollution of water across many OECD countries.


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