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Evolving thinking on Agricultural Water Productivity: Lessons learned from 20 years of research

Presented by IWMI's Meredith Giordano at a technical session on ‘Agricultural Water Productivity and Water Conservation: Are They Two Sides of the Same Coin’, at the World Bank Water Week 2017, March 15, 2017.

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Evolving thinking on Agricultural Water Productivity: Lessons learned from 20 years of research

  1. 1. Evolving thinking on Agricultural Water Productivity: Lessons learned from 20 years of research Meredith A. Giordano International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Peter G. McCornick Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute World Bank Water Week March 15, 2017
  2. 2. 1996 Agricultural Water Productivity: Origins of water productivity research at IWMI • Efficiency is a “tricky” concept in the field of water (does not account for capture and reuse of water) • Scope for real water savings is often less than imagined • New concepts are needed to address the “increasingly difficult problems facing water management” • Water Productivity: Output (kg/$) in relation to water use (in terms of water withdrawn, applied or consumed)
  3. 3. > 300 journal articles, reports and other documents on water productivity: methods, tools and applied research in diverse settings
  4. 4. Case Study: Water savings myths and realities Background • Objective: Assess the impact of “resource conservation” practices on water application, water productivity and real water savings • Location: Rechna Doab, semi-arid Punjab Province, Pakistan Rice–wheat cropping zones in the Indus Basin of Pakistan and location of sample farms surveyed in and near Rechna Doab, the Punjab, Pakistan. Source: Ahmad et al. 2007, 2014
  5. 5. At field scale: Water application reduced Field-scale impacts of laser leveling and zero tillage technologies (Ahmad et al. 2014) At field scale adoption of resource conservation technologies led to • 24-32% reduction in water application at the field scale • Increased farm level incomes
  6. 6. At system scale: Water consumption increased Ahmad et al. 2007 Overall water consumption at the system scale increased by 59 million cubic meters/year following the adoption of “resource conservation” technologies.
  7. 7. Belief Reality Transpiration Evaporation Flood irrigation Zero till Transpiration Evaporation Transpiration Evaporation Flood irrigation Transpiration Evaporation Zero till Some of the “wasted” water had actually been reused Flood irrigation Zero till
  8. 8. • Reductions on water applications at the field scale translate into reduced water consumption in the system (i.e., farmers won’t use the “saved” water). • Net farm incomes increased. • Increased profitability incentivized farmers to expand cultivated area and/or increase cropping intensity. Belief Reality
  9. 9. Impact depends on physical setting Groundwater quality in the Indus Basin, Ahmad et al. 2014
  10. 10. 2017 • Define terms carefully (e.g., water applied versus consumed) • Scale and context matter • Know your objective (i.e., improving water productivity is not the end goal) • Be clear on the use and limits of single factor measures Agricultural Water Productivity Lessons learned from 20 years of applied research
  11. 11. Thank You
  12. 12. Ahmad, M.D.; Masih, I.; Turral, H.; Giordano, M.; Masood, Z. 2006. Opportunities and challenges in saving water and improving productivity through resource conservation technologies: Examples from Pakistan. In: International Workshop on Water Saving Technologies, Amritsar, Punjab, India, February 22-24, 2006. New Delhi, India: United States Educational Foundation in India. Pp. 120-139. Ahmad, M.D.; Giordano, M.; Turral, H.; Masih, I.; Masood, Z. 2007. At what scale does water saving really save water? Lessons from the use of resource conservation technologies in Pakistan. Soil and Water Conservation 62(2): 29A-35A. Ahmad, M.D.; Turral, H.; Masih, I.; Giordano, M.; Masood, Z. 2007. Water saving technologies: Myths and realities revealed in Pakistan’s rice-wheat systems. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI). 38p. (IWMI Research Report 108). Ahmad, M.D.; Masih, I.; Giordano, M. 2014. Constraints and opportunities for water savings and increasing productivity through Resource Conservation Technologies in Pakistan. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 187: 106-115. Giordano, M.; Turral, H.; Scheierling, S. M.; Tréguer, D. O.; McCornick, P. G. 2017. Beyond “More Crop per Drop”: evolving thinking on agricultural water productivity. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI); Washington, DC, USA: The World Bank. 53p. (IWMI Research Report 169). Seckler, D. 1999. Revisiting the" IWMI paradigm:" Increasing the efficiency and productivity of water use. International Water Management Institute (IWMI): Colombo, Sri Lanka References