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Accueil du site → Doctorat → Allemagne → 2016 → Socio-economic benefits and limitations of irrigated family farming in Brazil’s semi-arid region

University of Hohenheim (2016)

Socio-economic benefits and limitations of irrigated family farming in Brazil’s semi-arid region

Hagel, Heinrich

Titre : Socio-economic benefits and limitations of irrigated family farming in Brazil’s semi-arid region

Sozio-ökonomische Analysen des kleinbäuerlichen Bewässerungslandbaus in Brasiliens semiarider Region

Auteur : Hagel, Heinrich

Université de soutenance : University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart

Grade : “Doktor der Agrarwissenschaften” ( in Agricultural Sciences 2016

Written records about severe droughts in Brazil’s semi-arid northeast reach back until the country’s colonization in the early 17th century. Since the late 19th century, irrigated agriculture was implemented to reduce the effects of droughts on the livelihood of the rural population. Supported by the construction of large dams and reservoirs for hydropower generation in the 1960s, irrigated agriculture was promoted on larger scales. In this context several irrigation schemes were implemented along the lower-middle São Francisco River. Despite economic growth and poverty reduction in the region, large parts of the rural population who strongly depend on agricultural income suffer from precarious living conditions. This dissertation aimed at a) a detailed analysis of the current production systems and the socio-economic situation of irrigated family farming along the lower-middle São Francisco River, b) identifying the natural, economic, and social constraints as well as benefits and potentials of irrigated agriculture, c) modeling and evaluating optimized resource allocation including alternative crops, and d) estimating the impact of changing the production conditions on agricultural production and its profitability. In the framework of this dissertation, a total of 60 expert interviews were held and a random sample of 193 farm household interviews was conducted to gather detailed information on crop and livestock production. Time series of secondary data were analyzed by regression analysis, qualitative data by content analysis, and socio-economic household data by regression analysis and analysis of variance. Farm optimization models were developed using Linear Programming. Results showed a high vulnerability of irrigated family farming to changing climate and infrastructural production conditions. Nearly half of the interviewed farmers had a farm income below the Brazilian minimum salary. Insufficient infrastructure, limited market access, volatile producer prices, lack of cooperation, overuse of irriga-tion water and agrochemicals, and insufficient knowledge about irrigated fruit and vegetable production aggravated by lack of agricultural consultancy turned out to be the main limitations of irrigated family farming in the region. Availability of irrigable land and proper crop choice were most relevant for the agricultural income. Innovative and efficiently managing farmers underlined the potential of irrigated family farming to counteract rural poverty. Integrated agricultural consultancy considering the development of human capital may provide the required inputs to support economic and social sustainability of agricultural production. Technical assistance combined with volumetric water pricing may help to reduce the excessive use of agrochemicals and water.

Mots clés  : Farm income, irrigated agriculture, linear programming, northeast Brazil


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