Policy Support and Governance Gateway

Issue paper

Water productivity, the yield gap, and nutrition. The case of Ethiopia

The report uses a nutritional water productivity (NWP) framework to interpret the relationship between nutrition and water in the context of water challenges. It argues that higher yields – of both staple and nutritious crops – are possible, even in water-stressed areas. This will require an agricultural transformation that ensures that efforts to enhance water productivity are linked to the promotion of healthy diets.

Increasing water productivity and stabilizing yields at realistic levels will also be crucial to increasing the resilience of farmers. Better coordination and timing of water and other inputs, notably fertilizers and improved seeds, is likely to enhance productivity and to reduce the threats of a further encroachment of agriculture into other ecosystems. A diversified production system is required for food security, nutrition and poverty alleviation. There is an opportunity to provide strategic support for crops and other farm produce with high economic and nutritional value. A range of crops and other produce can be included in farming systems ranging from rainfed to irrigated agriculture. For the farmers to be stimulated and able to capitalize on the increasing need and demand for such produce, the development of markets, and associated investments in cold storage, roads/transport and food procurement programmes that prioritize nutritious produce will be key.

Near East & North Africa