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.



The Future of Agriculture and Water

Market and Policy-based Strategies for Sustainability – What Can the Developing World Learn from North America?

As global projections for water availability and the demand for water in agriculture point towards increasing scarcity and supply variability, more attention is being paid to the role that policies can play in enhancing the management and sustainability of water – in terms of both quantity and quality. Drawing some lessons from the North American experience, this paper discusses some best practices that can be learned by developing countries, and highlights some pitfalls that should be avoided. We discuss the role that assigning water rights can play in creating the necessary incentives for market-based mechanisms of re-allocation to work for both water quantity and quality management. We also emphasise the role that remains for centralised regulatory authority, and the need for collective action to ensure that essential eco-system requirements are met. Among the examples we draw from are those of inter-sectoral transfers, conjunctive use of surface and groundwater and tradable permit mechanisms – for which we also highlight the enabling institutional requirements.


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