Peru needs to modernize its irrigation systems to ensure sustainable agriculture

Irrigation in Peru is crucial for stimulating the economy, reducing poverty and increasing food security. The sustainable use of water enables many families in rural areas, where more than half of the population lives in poverty, to engage in subsistence agriculture.

In addition, irrigation is essential for the sustainable management of water resources and adaptation to climate change: it accounts for approximately 80% of water usage and makes crops more resistant to droughts.

Despite these advantages, irrigation in Peru still faces many technical, institutional and financial constraints. María del Castillo, advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture, explains that “some farmers do not include water in their production costs; they do not know exactly how much water they use or how many liters per second they should use for watering. This lack of knowledge may cause many of their crops to die.”

Another disadvantage is the limited guidance that WUOs receive. According to Marie-Laurie Lajaunie, a World Bank expert in water and irrigation management: “Compared with the resources the government has allocated to improving and expanding irrigation, the efforts invested in improving technical and management capabilities of users and their organizations have been quite modest and sporadic.”

Peru currently has nine major types of irrigation systems, which can grouped in three agro climatic zones in the country. Having a variety of systems hinders the implementation of a single solution to the country’s irrigation problems.

This diversity makes it necessary to develop flexible solutions that take local characteristics into account.  The government and the WUOs in the field should work together to improve irrigation systems and control of the country’s water resources.

Source | World Bank