Agronomy for Sustainable Development

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 415–431

Agricultural water poverty index and sustainability

Review Article


Water resources are declining at an alarming rate in the world. The use of water resources for agricultural production has contributed to the rapid decline in quantity and degradation of water quality. Though sustainable agriculture must be economically viable, ecologically sound and socially responsible, water scarcity has challenged the sustainability of agriculture, especially in arid and semi-arid regions. There is a relative consensus among professionals that the increasing water scarcity through excessive use of water and mismanagement of the available water resources are major concerns for agricultural sustainability. Agricultural sustainability is assessed using various indicators, but the contribution of the water factor in those indicators is limited. Therefore, we review the role of sustainable water management in achieving agricultural sustainability. We propose an agricultural water poverty index (AWPI) as an instrument to provide a holistic picture of vital issues for sustainable water management. We also distill key components of the agricultural water poverty index and discuss its applications. The agricultural water poverty index can be used to assess the agricultural water poverty among farmers and regions and to provide guidelines for sustainable water management. This article uses the case of Iran to illustrate the application of the agricultural water poverty index in analyzing agricultural water poverty and providing recommendations for sustainable water management.


sustainable agriculture water management sustainability agricultural water poverty Iran 


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© INRA and Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Extension, College of AgricultureShiraz UniversityShirazIran

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