Increased food production, including staple food, is needed to overcome the present and future threats to food security. This should happen within a framework of sustainable management of natural resources, elimination of unsustainable methods of production, poverty reduction and early stabilization of the world population. Water plays a critical role in food production. It is estimated that 80% of the additional production required to meet the demands of the future will have to come from intensification and yield increase. Improved moisture control and irrigation are, essential to achieve these. A two-pronged strategy is needed to increase food production through irrigation, namely: (a) increasing water productivity in existing irrigation schemes through modernization of such schemes; and (b) increasing the area under irrigation, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Irrigation modernization is a process of change from supply-oriented to service-oriented irrigation. It involves institutional, organizational and technological changes. It transforms a traditional irrigation scheme from protective to productive irrigation. The modernization process is now accepted as a strategic option to increase water productivity, total production and increase economic output of large gravity irrigation schemes. There is justification for irrigation system modernization in many countries, although the specific need for modernization varies by country and project. In order to promote irrigation modernization, there is need for (a) documentation of case studies on modernization; (b) preparation of guidelines, improved design manuals and other appropriate technical documents; (c) development of project monitoring and evaluation procedures; and (d) building-up of national capacity on irrigation modernization.