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9th International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
"Rainwater Catchment: An Answer to the Water Scarcity of the Next Millennium."
Petrolina, Brazil - July 1999

Section 8: Rainwater Catchment Systems in Agriculture

Paper 8.4

Small-scale Water Management in Farming Systems in the Brazilian Arid Zones: What Is Being Done and How to Improve Its Application

Everaldo Rocha Porto, Aderaldo de Souza Silva, José Barbosa dos Anjos, Luiza Teixeira de Lima Brito & Paulo Roberto Coelho Lopes
Centro de Pesquisa do Trópico Semi-Árido-CPATSA
BR 428, km 152 , Zona Rural, Caixa Postal 23
CEP 56300-000, Petrolina, Pernambuco, Brasil


The Brazilian semiarid tropics occupy an area of approximately one million square kilometers and have about 20 million inhabitants. Most of the farmers are dependent on subsistence farming characterized by small land holdings, limited financial resources and productivity that is both unstable and low. Misuse and abuse of natural resources are causing heightened concern about the sustainability of the Brazilian semiarid tropic agriculture. Rainfall is highly variable and poor soils predominate.

The Center for Agricultural Research in the Semi-Arid Tropics (O Centro de pesquisa Agropecuária do Trópico Semi-Árido--CPATSA) was established by the Government of Brazil to seek ways to change the low quality of life endured by the residents of the Northeast. A comprehensive program to promote and improve small-scale water management in the region has been underway since 1977, and will be discussed in this article. Components under study include runoff inducement, water harvesting, recession farming, life-saving irrigation, subsurface dams and cisterns for drinking water. Significant technical achievements have resulted to date. The need to improve technology transfer has been recognized. Moreover if rain-fed agriculture in the Brazilian semiarid tropics is to have a sustainable base, a systems approach regarding social polices is a fundamental need.

PDF of full document (13pp, 380kb)

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