Assessing the sustainability of water and agriculture security by analyzing the decoupling of agriculture economics from groundwater withdrawal

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran.

2 Department of Water, Wastewater and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Civil, Water and Environmental Engineering, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran.



The important share of agriculture in groundwater resources depletion as well as job creation for some of the most disadvantaged sections of the society has caused hiring any restrictions on this sector with the aim of restoring groundwater resources results in a wide range of socio-economic challenges. In such a situation, a potential solution to overcome the dire situation of groundwater resources without the emergence of socio-economic consequences is to achieve the growth of the agricultural economy along with the decrease of groundwater consumption, which is known as strong decoupling in the research literature. In this study, an attempt was made to evaluate the nature of the relationship between the growth of the agricultural economy and the withdrawal of groundwater resources in 31 provinces of Iran between 2012 and 2019 by applying an approach called the Tapio approach. Then, the effect of being placed in a state of strong decoupling on the depth of groundwater should be estimated by quantile regression model. According to the findings, almost all the main agricultural centers of Iran, such as Fars and Khorasan Razavi, have not only failed to achieve strong decoupling, but in many cases, they have also experienced negative growth in the agricultural economy along with the increase in the withdrawal of groundwater resources, and consequently, they are in unstable conditions in terms of economic and groundwater resources. Further, the results of the quantile model depicted that in the areas with medium and deep groundwater resources, achieving strong decoupling reduces the depth of these resources by about 8%, although the same thing does not affect the depth of these resources in areas with shallow groundwater.