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IFAP IFAP World Water Day 2010: Clean Water for a Healthy World
Last modified: 2010-03-24 21:52:13

Farmers as key actors for water quality in agriculture

March 22, 2010 - Farmers around the world are constantly developing and implementing innovative solutions to reduce threats on water quality. On World Water Day 2010, with the theme ‘Clean Water for a Healthy World,' we are reminded of the critical importance of water to the lives of farmers. Farmers' lives depend on using water sustainably, for their own health, the health of their farms and the ecosystems they depend on. In 2050, nearly two of the world's nine billion inhabitants are expected to live in areas where water is absolutely scarce, while two-thirds of the world's population will have difficult access to adequate clean water. This will have a huge impact on farmers everywhere in the world. IFAP and the world's farmers' organizations are prepared to work as essential allies in facing these challenges.

Farmers strive to improve water quality, and consequently their surrounding ecosystems. Water quality is a prerequisite for sustainable development. Farmers employ diverse measures to protect water quality, such as recycling wastewater with innovative systems, minimizing the use of fertilizers by monitoring crop growth cycles, using leguminous crops in rotation or adopting organic agricultural practices, which build up the soil's potential to retain soil moisture.

IFAP President Ajay Vashee said "Farmers around the world use diverse but effective tactics to increase the sustainability of their water use, which is the determining factor in improving water quality."

Safeguarding and improving water quality is a shared responsibility, however. IFAP calls on governments and intergovernmental agencies to provide farmer-centered investment in irrigation and rural sanitation systems. IFAP advocates investment in precision irrigation systems, such as drip irrigation. Improving irrigation technologies will increase yields while decreasing the demand for water, as well as reduce runoff. Farmer centered research and appropriate technology transfer are crucial to the successful establishment of efficient irrigation systems.

IFAP also supports the investment in smallholder farmers, who are mostly dependent upon rain-fed crops, to improve their water harvesting, storage and recycling capacity, which can result in a dramatic improvement in both food security and incomes.

Investments in agriculture are very cost efficient and guarantee a high rate of return - both in terms of increased productivity and water conservation and quality.

Recognizing farmers as key stakeholders for a rational use of the freshwater resources and safeguarding the water quality is crucial to achieving sustainable agricultural practices. Farmers' involvement in policy making processes and provision of positive incentives for the adoption of good agricultural practices are effective means of protecting water and natural resources while enhancing agricultural production.

"We are counting on foundations, governments and United Nations agencies to work with the national farmers' organizations of the world to help us scale up the adoption of practices for using water in the most effective and efficient ways possible."

Press Contact - Neil Sorensen, Communications Coordinator - neil.sorensen@ifap.org www.ifap.org

IFAP is the world farmers' organization, representing 600 million family farmers grouped in 112 national organizations in 87 countries. It is a global network in which farmers from industrialized and developing countries exchange concerns and set common priorities. IFAP has been advocating farmers' interests at the international level since 1946 and has General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Keywords: IFAP, World Water Day, farmers organization, family farmers, water quality
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