Brazil is among the ten countries with the largest irrigated areas on the planet, a study conducted by the National Water Agency (ANA) found. According to the Irrigation Atlas: Water Use in Irrigated Agriculture, the country has 6.95 million hectares where foods are produced using different irrigation techniques. The survey, released today (Oct. 2), also shows that the amount accounts for a mere 20% of the area that could be used for the activity.
The Southeast has 2,709,342 hectares of irrigated land, the South 1,696,233, the North 194,002, the Northeast 1,171,159, and the Central-West 1,183,974.
The study highlights four irrigation methods adopted in the country: surface, subterranean, sprinkler, and localized, used especially in agribusiness.
“As regards diversity, we can see some large-scale patterns between methods/systems and cultures, such as the strong connection between flooding and rice; drip, coffee and fruit culture; conventional sprinkler with reels and sugar cane; and center pivots and the production of other grains, especially cotton, beans, corn, and soy,” the study says.
The study notes that, even though the growth in irrigation usually leads to an increase in water use, the activity contributes to the “growth in productivity, the reduction in unitary costs, the mitigation of climate/meteorological risks and the optimization of supplies and equipment.”
The atlas helps determining the dimensions and the estimates for the demand for water, contributing to planning and research in the study of threatened basins. The survey “is of the utmost importance for the estimated use of water and for keeping reports on water resources up-to-date, providing the foundation for decision making and risk assessment in the security of irrigated agriculture and the support for the multiple uses of water.”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the world's top irrigators are China and India, with some 70 million hectares each, followed by the US (26.7), Pakistan (20) and Iran (8.7). Brazil is among the countries with four to seven million hectares—along with Thailand, Mexico, Italy, and Spain.
Translated by Fabrício Ferreira