This article focuses on the water aspects of African agriculture, noting the Commission for Africa’s emphasis on investments for irrigation infrastructure. A brief overview of the current situation in agriculture and the linkages with food security sets the scene for the exploration of solutions to the challenges of how to increase productivity.
The potential of different technologies are reviewed, ranging from cheap ‘bucket and drip kits’ for improving irrigation, to sophisticated genetic engineering to make plants need less water. The statement is made that a ‘blue revolution’ should not overemphasise irrigation expansion, as issues such as timing and reliability of supply tend to be more important. In addition, it is crucial that attention is paid to the institutional framework governing water resources, acknowledging their complexity and dynamism, as well as involving stakeholders in decision-making in order to overcome historical legacies of unequal access and control.