Confusion exists about the extent of water scarcity, but much more confusion and disagreement prevails about policies and the means to address water scarcity. Choices is featuring a set of articles focused on policy issues associated with climate change and water scarcity in their interaction with agriculture and the environment.
Fresh water resources are becoming a constraint to economic development and food production. Because different sectors are involved, an economy-wide approach can better address needed policy interventions. Research should also focus on institutions that have to be in place in order to allow new technologies to operate.
Climate change will further exacerbate water scarcity by increasing the demand for water and possibly reducing supply. Because farmers withdraw the largest share of water, growing scarcity is likely to have dramatic effects on farmers. Both water managers and farmers must adapt and water institutions will need to encourage adaptation.
Roger Claassen and Marc Ribaudo
Climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, increasing the risk of environmental damage from agriculture. USDA conservation programs provide financial and technical assistance to help farmers adopt practices that reduce damages. The challenge is to identify cost-effective opportunities and encourage farmers to participate in voluntary conservation programs.
Susanne M. Scheierling and David O. Treguer
As water scarcity increases, the need to enhance water productivity in irrigated agriculture is increasingly emphasized but the public discussion often remains vague. This article highlights some of the challenges, including notions of water scarcity and agricultural water productivity, and related objectives and policy interventions.
Rathinasamy Maria Saleth, Nitin Bassi, and M. Dinesh Kumar
Water demand management can resolve water challenges facing many agricultural countries around the world, provided it is implemented by better exploiting its institutional, infrastructural, and technological underpinnings within the framework of a coherent strategy. There are many international examples that provide evidence of viable pathways to build a successful strategy.