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Full Project Title: Improving on-farm agricultural water productivity in the Karkheh River Basin (PN08)


The Karkheh River Basin (KRB), a major agricultural production zone of Iran with both rain-fed and irrigated fields, suffers from water scarcity and droughts that impact on farming productivity and livelihoods. With limited potential for increasing water resources given the maximized cultivated area, additional crop production can only be accomplished through increasing the productivity of the existing land and water resources.

The project aimed at integrating assessment of on-farm water productivity and developing supplemental irrigation and cropping practices to improve sustainable water productivity. The focus is on developing suitable policy and institutional arrangements and out-scaling findings to improve farmers’ awareness and the adoption of new technologies.

Research Highlights

Research highlights

  • Collection of field level water productivity values for irrigated and rain-fed areas of the basin under the existing situation that provided strong evidence for adoption of methods and technologies for improving water productivity.
Project Outcomes

Project outcomes

  • Enhanced community involvement and farmers’ participation in field trials determined the best practices and adoption of new technologies for improving water productivity for rain-fed and irrigated crops under saline and non-saline conditions.
  • Capacity building activity included granting of two PhD opportunities and many training workshops (jointly with PN24 or independently) on technical topics related to the project.
  • Supplemental irrigation in rain-fed areas, improved crop varieties, and proper planting and irrigation methods, resulted in significant increases in crop yields and water productivity.
  • Assessment of water policies and institutional arrangements resulted in recommendations including reducing overlapping of organizational responsibilities on water resources and improving coordination among various institutions in charge of water resources development and supply.
Publications and Outputs

Selected publications and outputs

  1. Oweis, T., H. Farahani, M. Qadir, J. Anthofer, H. Siadat, F. Abbasi and A. Bruggeman (eds). 2008. Improving On-farm Agricultural Water Productivity in the Karkheh River Basin. Research Report No. 1: A Compendium of Review Papers. ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria. iv+103 pp. ISBN: 92-9127-205-9.
  2. H. Farahani, T. Oweis, H. Siadat, F. Abbasi, A. Bruggeman, J. Anthofer and F. Turkelboom. 2008. Proceedings of the International Workshop on: Improving Water Productivity and Livelihood Resilience in Karkheh River Basin in Iran No. 2. ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria. iv+169pp. ISBN: 92-9127-212-4.
  3. De Pauw, E., A.Mirghasemi, A. Ghaffari and B. Nseri.2008. Agro-Ecological Zones of Karkheh River Basin. ICARDA. Aleppo, Syria. viii+96pp.ISBN:92-9127-212-6.

Forthcoming research reports

  1. Improving rainwater productivity with supplemental irrigation in the upper Karkheh River Basin of Iran.
  2. Assessing and improving irrigation water productivity of wheat and maize in the lower KRB of Iran
  3. Assessment of different scenarios of supplemental irrigation at upstream subbasins of Karkheh Basin on quantity and quality of flows of Karkheh Dam.
  4. Assessment and Improvement of Water Productivity under Saline Conditions in the lower KRB.
  5. Study of the effects of economic factors on water use efficiency in irrigated cereals under farmers’ condition in the lower KRB.
  6. Assessing Policies and Institutional Arrangement in the Karkheh River Basin.

Policy flyers

  1. Promote supplemental irrigation in rainfed agricultural systems in the upper KRB.
  2. Provide incentives for adopting improved practices and new cropping patterns to increase water productivity and farm income in irrigated areas of the lower KRB.
  3. Implement agricultural drainage and salinity management technologies in salt affected areas of the lower KRB.
Final Report
Project Partners

Project partners


Project Lead

Project lead


For more information on Phase 1 outputs please contact Udana Ariyawansa.