- The sustainability of agriculture in arid regions is dependent on efficient irrigation, involving water management strategies that control salinity along with a selection of crops that are appropriate for arid conditions. The article reviews the present state-of-the-art in water management and irrigation research, including recycling of effluents. Salinity build-up in soils and water remains the paramount challenge for farmers in arid lands, which must be addressed. Recent developments in crop science for arid lands are also considered. Numerous successful examples exist of domestication of new breeding species with high water-use efficiencies and resistance to drought and salinity. The economic sustainability of new technologies for arid agriculture is assessed. Strategically, arid agriculture faces many disadvantages in the world market. While the review offers a basis for optimism regarding the long-term future prospects of agriculture on arid lands, sustainability will require substantial investment in irrigation infrastructure and careful selection of crop types for agriculture to be commercially competitive.