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Irrigated agriculture and resilience of family farms – a clash of perspectives

Bara Guèye

Briefing

To meet the growing national demand for rice, governments in West Africa are promoting a model of agricultural investment which is oriented towards specialisation and intensification in rice farming, with the aim of increasing both production and productivity. For family farms, by contrast, rice production has to be part of a wider strategy to strengthen subsistence livelihoods and manage risk, by diversifying their sources of capital. Mechanisms for dialogue and negotiation are needed to bridge the gap between these different sets of priorities, and to enable better understanding of the specific needs for support of the different types of farm. New governance rules, based on inclusion and participation of producers, can make
a contribution to improving the performance of irrigated rice systems.

This policy briefing was produced as part of the work by the Global Water Initiative (GWI) in West Africa, which is an initiative funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and implemented by IIED with IUCN.

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Agriculture in large-scale rice irrigation schemes needs to be made to work for both the state, in terms of economic returns and national food security, and for the smallholders whose livelihoods depend on it. When it comes to the development of new dams and large-scale irrigation, more information is needed about their economic viability and how the water, land, and economic benefits can be shared equitably to support local development.

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Global Water Initiative — West Africa