Water is one of the very important inputs necessary for the production of food crops hence, food security and rural livelihoods are essentially linked to the accessibility of water. Eighty percent of the world’s global agricultural land area is under rain-fed; this contributes to 58% of the world’s staple foods. In Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA), reliance on rain-fed agriculture is high with 97% of the moisture needs of crops fulfilled mainly by water stored in the soil through rainfall. Due to highly unpredictable and sporadic seasonal rainfalls in SSA, rainfall cannot meet the requirements for crop growth and development resulting in lower crop yields with consequent food insecurity. It is important that water in rain-fed agriculture is used efficiently and effectively through interventions that conserve soil water. Thus, water productivity under rain-fed agriculture must be enormously improved particularly in SSA where the climate is dry and over 90% of agricultural activities are rainfed. However, uncertainty in rainfall projections and magnitude makes rainfed crop production a real challenge. Therefore, water management through daily field activities (agronomic practices) is a critical constituent that needs to be adopted in the current challenge of rainfall variability, climate change and expected increase demand for food. This paper highlights potentials of some agronomic practices for improved soil water content. Agronomic practices such as crop selection, mulching, fertilization and soil tillage has the potential to improve soil water content for improved and sustainable crop production.
Key words: Soil water, drylands, sub-Sahara Africa, rainfed, agronomic practices.
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