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What is the irrigation potential for Africa? A combined biophysical and socioeconomic approach

  • You, Liangzhi
  • Ringler, Claudia
  • Wood-Sichra, Ulrike
  • Robertson, Richard
  • Wood, Stanley
  • Zhu, Tingju
  • Nelson, Gerald
  • Guo, Zhe
  • Sun, Yan

Although irrigation in Africa has the potential to boost agricultural productivities by at least 50%, food production on the continent is almost entirely rainfed. The area equipped for irrigation, currently slightly more than 13 million hectares, makes up just 6% of the total cultivated area. More than 70% of Africa’s poor live in rural areas and mostly depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. As a result, agricultural development is key to ending poverty on the continent. Many development organizations have recently proposed to significantly increase investments in irrigation in the region. However, the potential for irrigation investments in Africa is highly dependent upon geographic, hydrologic, agronomic, and economic factors that need to be taken into account when assessing the long-term viability and sustainability of planned projects. This paper analyzes the large, dam-based and small-scale irrigation investment potential in Africa based on agronomic, hydrologic, and economic factors. We find significant profitable irrigation potential for both small-scale and large-scale systems. This type of regional analysis can guide distribution of investment funds across countries and should be a first step prior to in-depth country- and local-level assessment of irrigation potential, which will be important to agricultural and economic development in Africa.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030691921100114X
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Food Policy.

Volume (Year): 36 (2011)
Issue (Month): 6 ()
Pages: 770-782

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:36:y:2011:i:6:p:770-782
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol

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  1. Svendsen, Mark & Ewing, Mandy & Msangi, Siwa, 2009. "Measuring irrigation performance in Africa:," IFPRI discussion papers 894, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Anton Eberhard & Vivien Foster & Cecilia Briceño-Garmendia & Fatimata Ouedraogo & Daniel Camos & Maria Shkaratan, 2008. "Underpowered : The State of the Power Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Bank Other Operational Studies 7833, The World Bank.
  3. You, Liangzhi & Wood, Stanley & Wood-Sichra, Ulrike, 2007. "Generating plausible crop distribution and performance maps for Sub-Saharan Africa using a spatially disaggregated data fusion and optimization approach:," IFPRI discussion papers 725, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  4. You, Liangzhi & Wood, Stanley, 2006. "An entropy approach to spatial disaggregation of agricultural production," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-3), pages 329-347, October.
  5. Inocencio, Arlene & Kikuchi, Masao & Tonosaki, Manabu & Maruyama, Atsushi & Merrey, Douglas & Sally, Hilmy & de Jong, Ijsbrand, 2007. "Costs and performance of irrigation projects: A comparison of Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions," IWMI Research Reports H036214, International Water Management Institute.
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