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 Freshwater Ecosystems Investment Shields Poor Farmers 

Date of Publish - Friday, 23rd March 2018
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Investments on freshwater ecosystems by many developing countries help farmers reduce the impact from floods, droughts and water pollution, the United Nations agricultural development fund said, observed as World Water Day.

Commenting on this, the fund said drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting and saltwater tolerant crops will go a long way towards protecting the livelihoods of small farmers and food security for millions of people around the world.

The findings are contained in a new report 'The Water Advantage: Seeking Sustainable Solutions for Water Stress', which draws evidence from a review of IFAD-supported projects in six countries.

This best suits for India also as it faces acute shortage of water for irrigation and drinking purposes. As millions of farmers in the country are more dependent on rainfall, which is very erratic, investments on ecosystems could be best option for our governments.

By improving access to clean water and helping farmers manage water resources more effectively, communities are more resilient to climate change and to environmental shocks, the report says.

"For small farmers in developing countries, water is the difference between a decent life or poverty, hunger and malnutrition," said IFAD's President Gilbert F Houngbo.

"This precious resource is under stress with a massive potential impact on the livelihoods of poor rural communities," added Houngbo, who chairs UN-Water, which coordinates the efforts of UN bodies and international organisations working on water and sanitation issues.
More than a billion people live in regions prone to drought, and as many as 3.5 billion are facing water scarcity by 2025, according to Margarita Astralaga, director of IFAD's environment and climate division.

"IFAD is ready to help farmers secure the freshwater resources that represent a fundamental input for agriculture and the well-being of rural communities," said Astralaga.
In Bangladesh, IFAD is working with villagers to protect them from flash floods, while in Malawi and Brazil, medium sized irrigation systems have been put in place to help smallholder farmers cope with water scarcity, the UN agency said.

IFAD has been working in India since 1979. The current country strategy aims to increase the rural poor’s access to agricultural technologies, natural resources, financial services and value chains. A major cross-cutting objective is to share knowledge and learning on poverty reduction and nutrition security – with a focus on tribal communities, smallholder farming households, landless people, women and unemployed youth.

IFAD and the Indian government signed a $168 million pact in 2016 to sustainably raise incomes and food security for tribal farming households in northeast India.

The six-year project will help 201,500 rural highland farming households in tribal villages in 12 districts located in the uplands of Mizoram and Nagaland states. The target population is smallholder farmers who depend on rain-fed agriculture and a shifting cultivation system known as ‘jhum’ for their livelihoods.

“Once sustainable, the jhum-based upland farming system is breaking down due to low productivity, shortening and shifting cultivation cycles with less time to restore soil fertility and biodiversity, and an increasing demand for food by a growing population,” said Meera Mishra, the IFAD country coordinator for India. “Changing climate patterns are also having a negative effect,” Mishra added.

Over 100,000 households will have improved access to water by 2020, thanks to IFAD's Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme, which has 14 projects aimed at increasing the availability of water and efficiency of water use for smallholder farmers, the agency noted.

Author :
Madakasira Rajesh

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