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Real water savings in agricultural systems









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    Policy brief
    Real water savings in agriculture 2023
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    Irrigated agriculture consumes the largest share of water for human use by far, signifying that it is within the irrigation sector that solutions to address and manage water scarcity must be found. Unfortunately, overcoming the water crisis through agricultural interventions is not simple, and increasing attention is now being paid to common misconceptions and overly simplistic (and often erroneous) views in agricultural water management. In particular, the role that ‘increasing water use efficiency’ can play in tackling the water crisis is dominated by misunderstandings related to hydrology, economics, and human behaviour. This policy brief is based on extensive work carried out by FAO and FutureWater under the Asia Pacific Water Scarcity Programme (WSP). It clearly explains the complexities associated with efforts to increase water use efficiency and the importance of utilising water accounting and consistent use of terminology in developing water management interventions. A practical new tool is introduced that provides clear and practical guidelines on how to mplement ‘real’ water savings in agriculture by selecting suitable interventions that enhance crop water productivity.
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    Book (series)
    Guidance on realizing real water savings with crop water productivity interventions 2021
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    This technical document contains clear and practical guidelines on how to implement real water savings in agriculture through interventions for enhancing crop water productivity. A distinction is made between real water savings and “apparent” water savings. Apparent water savings record reductions in water withdrawals but do not account for changes in water consumption. Real water savings record reductions in water consumption and non-recoverable return flows (runoff or percolation). This guidance document emphasizes the paradox of water savings at field and basin scales, which usually do not translate into increased water availability for other users, as is commonly believed.
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    Book (stand-alone)
    Improved on-farm participatory water management to reduce mining of groundwater in Yemen 2001
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    Water shortage is the most critical issue facing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region and is likely to be exacerbated in the future because of high population growth and continuing decline in the renewable resources resulting from climate change, pollution and overdraft of groundwater. Despite this alarming situation, water management still faces major drawbacks as the largest share is used for agricultural production under traditional farming practices and low on-farm water use effici ency, resulting in very low output per unit of water use and consequently low economic returns from investments. However, because of the scarcity and unreliability of precipitation in the region, the improvement of irrigated farming systems still presents a high potential in the region and will undoubtedly continue to attract investment in the future, in comparison with rainfed systems. The present study is based on the outputs of several projects and sectoral studies, particularly a World Bank financed project aimed at introducing modern irrigation technological packages, in a participatory manner, under all major existing farming systems, as a measure to enhance water savings and improve farm income.

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