Helping farmers reduce water use in agriculture
At Nestlé, we believe that we can make the greatest difference to the health of a local water catchment when we invest in collective community action to help embed long term sustainable water use.
With agriculture responsible for 70% of global water withdrawals, helping farmers to manage and conserve water can have a significant positive impact and alleviate pressure on ecosystems.
Local implication: the Kabini River
46% of the catchment of the Kabini River in Karnataka is agricultural land, principally used for growing rice and sugarcane, which are 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 has 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 will test the likelihood of rice and sugarcane farmers adopting improved techniques for growing water-intensive crops over a three-year period.
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 cost.
• Reduce water use significantly 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.