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Bulletin No. 3
December 17, 2013
‘Pay less, earn more’:
modernization of techniques for a better
agriculture water productivity.
The NENA region has the less renewable water resources per
capita per year in the world. The high dependence on grain
imports and the competition for scarce water resources are not
enough taken into consideration in policy formulation processes: enhance
water productivity for better agriculture needs complex and integrated solutions.
Negative trends in agricultural productivity must be reversed through the modernization agricultural
techniques; the constant interaction between farmers and governments is crucial. Water users association
should be actively involved at all stages of the decision making process and modern agricultural technologies
should be made available to farmers. While water is necessary for energy generation, energy still represents
50% of water costs, it is therefore important to effectively reflect this linkage in policies planning processes.
Considering that one liter of water is needed to produce 1 kcal, modernized agricultural techniques can also
facilitate the introduction of more productive crops, ensuring food security while supporting poverty reduction and economic growth. “Increasing water productivity is not a synonymous of water saving”, the application of more efficient agricultural models allows stakeholders to avoid food and water losses and waste.
How do we attract the support of donors and investors?
Increasing rainfall variability, prolonged drought, severe
land degradation, and a rapidly-growing population are
all contributing to the severe threats posed to the
region’s food security. Strengthening institutions and
improving technical capacity that facilitates improved
forecasting and early warning systems can be the
response to the increasingly severe environmental
constraints faced by the NENA region. Governments
should develop strategies that include technologies that
are capable of mitigating the effects of drought and
other negative impacts of climate change as well as
innovative approaches to agricultural productivity that
help to manage uncertainty and risk.
Exploring the development potential of new water
harvesting research initiatives is possible. However,
scaling-up these innovative approaches and making
them available to farmers across more expansive areas
will depend on three crucial considerations: the right mix
of appropriate policies, institutional support, and
sustained investments. Long-term success and sustainability required an integrated approach to agricultural
research for development, which rather than focusing on
a single commodity or intervention, provided a package
of interventions that considered entire production
systems and reflected farmer realities.
Public-private partnerships are crucial. Making a strong
economic case and demonstrating the feasibility of
specific project was crucial, it was widely agreed, but
financing projects that were not currently economicallyfeasible but no less crucial for managing precious natural
resources remained a challenge. Ensuring that water
harvesting technologies become a much higher priority
within policy dialogues is predicated on clear and
concise communication: demonstrating the impacts of
research on rural communities, and encouraging farmers
to put pressure on governments to act in their interests.
Bulletin No. 3
December 17, 2013
How to build resilience
in agricultural systems
If countries in the Near East and North Africa are to increase productivity against a back-drop of climate change and the demands and
pressures exerted by a growing population, they will need access to
simple, adaptable technologies that can drive production in increasingly marginal environments.
A crucial need over the coming decades will be practices and technologies capable of conserving soil and
effectively managing soil fertility across the MENA region’s wide expanses of marginal environments where
farmers confront increasing rates of salinity, degradation, and desertification.
Given the region’s increasing water scarcity, these water sources, alongside the sustainable exploitation of
groundwater, could become increasingly important if we are to successfully increase food production to feed
a growing global population. Improved plant varieties capable of tolerating conditions in marginal environments were also discussed. In this regard, the potential of non-conventional water sources – like saline, brackish, drainage, and treated wastewater- should be explored.
Efforts to promote zero tillage, or conservation agriculture, should be promoted, focusing on cost-effective
tools and technologies that can facilitate this sustainable farming practice. As conservation agriculture is not
yet part of most country’s national agricultural agendas, discussions on translating researches into policy and
development should be promoted.
Research and land management: main highlights
1. A better dissemination of good practices and awareness raising efforts to reach out farmersand users is key to
make research and science available to beneficiaries. A sense of ownership should be strengthened in agricultural
policies in order to change users negative behaviors which have an a dverse impact on productivity. Research also
need to be demand-driven, to better respond tocompetitive markets trends
2. Water can have a severe impact on soil erosion; integrated approaches and broader partnerships can ensure a
sustainable land and water management. Sustainability need to be enriched through top-down approaches that
focus on vulnerable groups.
What is water tenure?
Water tenure is the relationship, whether formally or customarily defined between people, as individual or
groups, with respect to water resources.
While lands rights are officially integrated in countries approaches and regulation, water tenure represents a
rather new concept. Its sensitivity is evident: water tenure regulate the allocation of water resources among
different users. As different models and systems of governance of these natural resources exist under national
contexts, informalities are the rule.
The governance of tenure is a crucial element to determine if and how people, communities and other stakeholders are able to acquire rights, and associated duties, to use and control water. In order to raise awareness
on the implication of this issue, FAO developed voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure
of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security. Developed in a participatory way, this
guidelines can support countries in applying governance strategies associated to natural resources.