The Impact of Soil Variability on Crop Water Productivity and Food Security of Irrigated Agriculture in West-Africa

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    Agossou Gadedjisso-Tossou

    The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that agricultural production will have to increase by 60% by 2050 to satisfy the expected demands for food and feed.[1] In addition, Sub-Saharan Africa is the region experiencing the greatest food security. By 2050 its population will increase two-and-a-half -fold and demand for cereals are approximately expected to triple. Current levels of cereal consumption already depend on substantial imports.[2] According to the same authors, this demand cannot be met by closing yield gap alone. Other more complex and uncertain components of intensification must be considered, such as, increasing cropping intensity and the sustainable expansion of irrigated production areas. Moreover, in Sub-Saharan Africa, rapid growth of populations coupled with recurring droughts and the continuing decline in per capita food production has led to a renewed call for more irrigation development.[3] These phenomena are more pronounced in the West African region.

    It is well known that water is one of the most important inputs required for plant growth for agriculture production and food security. However, the West African region faces problems connected to water scarcity as well as soil fertility depletion. Theses have an impact on yield risks and food security due to a high variability in the seasonal rainfall and other climate variables. Therefore, there is a need to improve water-use efficiency in irrigated agriculture in the West African region. In other words, local stakeholders in West Africa need easy-to-use, cost-effective, and efficient decision-making support tools for the management of their irrigated agricultural fields and for the increase of irrigation efficiency.

    The overall objective of the study is to evaluate crop responses to the soil and climate variability under irrigated agriculture in West Africa for a specific site.

    [1] FAO. 2013. “Climate-Smart Agriculture Source book.” Rome, Italy.

    [2] M.K. van Ittersum, L.G.J. van Bussel, J. Wolf et al. 2016. Can sub-Saharan Africa feed itself? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) 113(52):14964–14969,

    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1610359113.

    [3] Urama K.C. 2005. Land-use intensification and environmental degradation: Empirical evidence form irrigated and rain-fed farms in south eastern Nigeria. Journal of Environmental Management, 75, 199-217. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2004.11.018