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Institut für Wasser- und Umweltsystemmodellierung - IWS



"Valuation of socio-economical effects of irrigation projects "

Worldwide around 1,500 million hectares of land are cultivated, from which approximately 17% are irrigated. Irrigated cultivated land contributes with more than a third of the global food production, which shows the importance of irrigation systems in the world food security. Irrigation is, by far, the biggest water user around the world. A proper water management has to be applied in order to avoid water misuse, and harmful consequences in the operation of the irrigation system. As it is easy to imagine, an irrigation system, has a big socio-economic impact in the project area and its surroundings. In some cases, irrigation systems can be used to develop agriculture in regions with other traditional activities, or where it has been abandoned in benefit to more lucrative activities. At the beginning of the XX century, with the discovery of the oil in Venezuela, the national economy made a huge change from agricultural producer, to oil producer. Agricultural activities started to dramatically drop down, until the point that the national production was not even enough to satisfy the internal demand. Several attempts have been made to reactivate the agriculture in the country, some of them in the form of big irrigation systems. One of these systems is the El Diluvio -Palmar irrigation system, in the western Zulia state, which first stage was inaugurated in 2006. A Case Study has been developed in this Master Thesis, based on the El Diluvio-Palmar irrigation system, with the objective of comparing different alternatives of use for the project. A 500 hectares land surface was chosen, where three scenarios were created. Different variables like costs, productivity and social benefit, were analyzed. These three scenarios are listed and briefly explained in the following lines:
  • Family Farm Scenario: the surface is divided in 200 "self-subsistence" farms
  • Cooperatives Scenario: the surface is divided in three equal shares, each one of them independently operated by a cooperative
  • Industry Scenario: Industrial farming of the whole surface by a single company