This study attempts to re-frame the current thinking on groundwater development and the implications for food security. Groundwater is an important source for irrigated agriculture as it generally furnishes reliable and flexible inputs of water. To this extent, groundwater is instrumental in managing risk and optimizing food production. However, this reliance upon shallow aquifer systems for irrigation has turned to dependency. Competition for groundwater is intense both between neighbouring users and among economic sectors. This study highlights the role of adaptive strategies in dealing with aquifer management and indicates directions of research and management.