It is a fact that the world population is expected to grow from current 7.4 billion to 9.1 billion by 2050. The proportion of population living in rural areas, in contrast, is expected to decline globally from current 3.4 billion people to 3.1 billion by the mid-century. In contrast to the global scenario, developing countries have about 75% of population living in rural areas, who are dependent on and continue to depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Furthermore, growing trend in urbanization may bring up the need of urban irrigation in near to mid future. This perspective, therefore, should also be reflected in irrigation planning in developing countries.
It is estimated that overall food production would require to be raised by some 70% between 2005 and 2050. In case of developing nations, the food production needs to be doubled to feed the growing population. Depletion and degradation of land and water resources is posing serious challenges to producing enough food and other agricultural products to sustain livelihoods and meet the needs of both rural and urban populations. Since increased food production will have to come from the same limited land and water resources, the focus will have to be on increasing agricultural and water productivity with efficient and optimal use of available resources. This will require adoption of improved agriculture practices, bringing more area under irrigation along with modernization of existing irrigation systems, institutional reforms and strengthening of irrigated agriculture. In this connection, the role of resilient agriculture in meeting increasing demands in the face of more competitive and volatile markets and increasing (frequencies and intensities) extreme events induced by climate change will be crucial.
In Africa, since the majority of the population still lives in rural areas, it is likely that rural development and the rational management of agricultural water will be a powerful engine of sustainable development and improving the resilience of rural households to cope with emerging challenges. For this purpose, key issues to be taken into account include: (i) investing in irrigated agriculture in middle and large-scale farming, as well as in small scale for smallholder family agriculture; (ii) promoting the resilience of poor rural households, (iii) water saving in irrigation. In Morocco such approach is taken into account within the strategy of the Green Morocco Plan started in 2008 and which includes in its design Pillar I (modern agriculture), Pillar II (solidary agriculture) as well a rational use of agricultural water.
Irrigating desiccated lands in Africa will not only improve agricultural productivity, but also put more food on the farmers’ table. They will be able to move from subsistence farming to larger scale production and increase their incomes in local and regional markets. Climate-smart agriculture can increase yields, enable farmers to earn a better living and help protect biodiversity, improve soil fertility and protect the environment.