Agriculture is one of the major user of fresh water in the world
Irrigated agriculture is the sector with by far the largest consumptive water use and water withdrawal.
Irrigated agriculture is very important, since it improves the quality and quantity of agricultural products: even in areas where rainfall is high and constant, its patterns often may not be the best for water requirements of commercial crops. Irrigation helps giving water to the crops at the right time and in correct amount, improving their productivity.
Irrigation was born together with agriculture, and “at global level 2.788.000 km² (689 million acres) of fertile land was equipped with irrigation infrastructure around the year 2000. About 68% of the area equipped for irrigation is located in Asia, 17% in the Americas, 9% in Europe, 5% in Africa and 1% in Oceania.” (Wikipedia)
Irrigation for agriculture accounts, always at global level, for the 70% of withdrawals, while 11 percent are municipal and 19 percent industrial.
The ratios also vary much between regions, going from 91, 7 and 2 percent for agricultural, municipal and industrial water withdrawal respectively in South Asia to 8, 16 and 77 percent respectively in Western Europe. For more details about water withdrawal by region, please see this table.
ACCBAT is a strategic project that addresses the use of water resources in agriculture in semi-arid countries, improving environmental sustainability of agricultural practices and irrigation.