When it comes to water stewardship, our greatest challenge is making changes across our supply chain.
Why it matters
Addressing water use in our supply chains poses our greatest water stewardship challenge – and gives us the best chance of making a positive difference. By sharing good agricultural practice with our suppliers in water-stressed locations, they can become more productive and resilient to climate change.
With some of our agricultural supply chain located in water-stressed areas, we’re developing detailed action plans to tackle these issues, including training farmers, improving irrigation practices.
What we are doing
As we make progress on this issue, we help water-stressed communities become more resilient. A few examples of Nestlé India’s work with farmers is mentioned below:
Our work with rice and sugarcane farmers
In Karnataka, 46% of the catchment area of the Kabini River is agricultural land, principally used for the cultivation of rice and sugarcane, both water-intensive crops. In recent years, low rainfall, combined with high water demand within the catchment, has resulted in periods of insufficient water supply for farmers in the river basin.
To extend water stewardship efforts across the whole catchment area, Nestlé India, in 2015, partnered with AgSri, an agricultural services company that developed ecologically sustainable systems, such as the Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI) and the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), to conduct pilot projects. These trials demonstrate improved techniques for growing water-intensive crops to rice and sugarcane farmers.
Water management in agriculture is based largely on managing variability. Through the interventions in paddy and sugarcane cultivation, the project aims to relieve the acute water shortage of the Kabini basin catchment. The interventions aim to:
- Benefit farmers by improving their productivity through an increase in the yield per hectare and reducing input costs.
- Significantly reduce water usage by reducing flood irrigation for paddy and sugarcane.
- Benefit the environment through reduced energy requirements for irrigation, reducing the use of chemical fertilisers and promoting soil microbial activity to improve soil health.
Our work with coffee farmers
In line with our commitment to engage with our suppliers, we have implemented water management initiatives in agriculture. Through the NESCAFÉ Plan, we are raising awareness and providing technical support to coffee farmers on water conservation in irrigation, soil management, waste water treatment and recycling, and water use optimisation. We have also undertaken capacity building on integrated farming techniques, as part of which, we provide technical assistance for rainwater harvesting and recharging practices. Our aim is to empower farmers in water-stressed areas to conserve this vital resource for years to come.
Our work with milk farmers
Punjab is called the 'Granary of India' due to its high wheat and rice yields. Factors such as fertile soil, access to water, intensive farming by hardworking farmers and their families, along with the use of high-yield crop seeds for cultivation, have contributed to the rapid growth of agriculture in the state. On the flip side, over exploitation of groundwater has caused its severe depletion, as almost 92% of the irrigation water is sourced from groundwater. Nestlé partnered with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) to study the water footprint of the agricultural and dairy production in Moga. Some of the recommendations provided in the report for water management were changing the cropping pattern, delayed transplanting of paddy, laser-land levelling, increased bund heights, intermittent irrigation and system of rice intensification among others.
Based on these recommendations, Nestlé India has developed a programme for farmers to raise awareness about the importance of water, challenges likely to be faced in the forthcoming years and mitigation actions that they can take.
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