Climate change, growing populations, and increasing wealth are increasing demand for food, energy, and water. Additionally, water stress is expected to increase in the future in areas with high rates of seasonality of precipitation, due to increased variability in precipitation. One approach to limiting the impact of climate change on food system productions is through the intensive and extensive expansion of irrigated agriculture. This study develops a hydro-economic model to assess future agriculture production possibilities and the role of irrigation water in the Pacific Slope region of Guatemala, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country. A range of future scenarios are presented to account for uncertainty around irrigation infrastructure expansion, future crop prices, incentives for production of biomass for bioenergy, and water availability and irrigation demand due to climate change. We find that current surface water irrigation infrastructure increases agricultural output by value in the region by about 5.3% compared to a fully rainfed system. Additionally, we show that with expanded irrigation infrastructure, agricultural output could increase by between 3.4% and 18.4% relative to current levels under current climate conditions, but the value of agricultural production could increase under climate change with projected output from current and expanded irrigation infrastructure resulting in an increase of 1.2-24.8% relative to current irrigation levels. We also present evidence that the marginal benefit from increased irrigation access to smallholder farmers is nearly equal to that received by large-scale industrial agricultural producers.
Opportunities and spatial hotspots for irrigation expansion in Guatemala to support development goals in the food-energy-water nexus
Wade, C. M., Baker, J. S., Van Houtven, G. L., Cai, Y., Lord, B. G., Castellanos, E., Leiva, B., Fuentes, G., Alfaro, G., Kondash, A., Henry, C., Shaw, B., & Redmon, J. H. (2022). Opportunities and spatial hotspots for irrigation expansion in Guatemala to support development goals in the food-energy-water nexus. Agricultural Water Management, 267, . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2022.107608
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