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AGRICULTURAL WATER PRODUCTIVITY CASE STUDY   
 
   

Outputs

- Agricultural production database at district level providing information on area, yield, and production for the main commodities for a baseline year (2000);

- Analysis of the current agricultural water productivity under rainfed and irrigated conditions;

- Detailed map of main farming systems in the Nile basin;

- Detailed analysis of each farming system and of the scope for improvement of agricultural productivity, by farming system and by country; this output includes identification of relevant options for poverty reduction in the farming system area;

- A set of national or sub-national assessments of potential improvements in agriculture water productivity in key selected areas in relation to the available water resources

Background

With the rising water scarcity concerns within the Nile Basin, it is becoming more important to ensure that water resources are used effectively. Improving end-use efficiency, particularly in agriculture, is seen as key to achieving water security in the basin.

Over the last forty years, agricultural water productivity has already increased by more than 100%. This has been instrumental in keeping pace with increasing food demands. Even if only a small part of this trend can de extended into the future, this would result in water savings that would open up options for increased output and socio-economic development.

With regard to agricultural water management and food security, rural households, both inside and outside formal irrigation commands, play a determining role. They account for the bulk of agricultural production in the Nile basin and are the “de-facto” managers of land and water resources on the ground. Their agricultural practices have a direct bearing on the productivity of the water resource in terms of yield, monetary value and employment. Farming practices also impact on the conservation or degradation of the existing land and water resources. By adopting the farming-systems approach developed by FAO, the study explicitly acknowledges the central role of rural households.

Intensive commercial irrigation is significant in the Nile basin and a key provider of foreign currencies through export of high quality agricultural produce. While these operations are not very sensitive to production volatility, the economic performance of commercial irrigated agriculture is directly linked to water production and water service costs.

The case study will establish the current status of water productivity in rainfed and irrigated agriculture in the Nile basin. It will assess the scope for improvements by riparian country and by farming system. The study will identify and investigate key areas in the basin with potential for water productivity improvement, and propose realistic and practical measures to increase end-use efficiency in agriculture across the Nile basin.

The agriculture water productivity study builds on the work of the basin wide survey of agriculture water use and is carried out alongside and in synergy with it.

Scope of Analysis

The case study will be based on two approaches of analysis: 1) by administrative units, and 2) by farming systems.

(i) The study will focus at national and sub-national levels with particular attention to the main crop production systems. Agricultural water productivity will be analyzed at district level. Results will be aggregated to country level with the aim to build up a comparable picture of water productivity in rainfed and irrigated agriculture across the basin.

(ii) A second level of analysis follows the farming system approach. It adopts the methodology presented in the FAO report “Farming systems and poverty” (FAO, 2001). An attempt will be made to differentiate agricultural production originating from the different farming systems. Policy relevance will be ensured by analysing the implications of water resources management in the most relevant farming systems present in the basin.

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