Slow Food on World Food Day: “Agroecology practices as the solution to the water crisis and to guarantee food security”

12 Oct 2023 | English

“We strongly believe water conservation is an intrinsic part of sustainable agriculture. Local forms of agriculture and food production put into practice from Slow Food communities around the world have conserved every drop of water like a precious gift. Not only do they produce safe food but also preserve clean water. These methods, which need strengthening and maintenance to overcome the severe crisis in global water resources, can be summarized with one word: agroecology.” Edward Mukiibi, Slow Food president, turns his attention to the existing solutions to try to solve the current water crisis which is affecting so many people around the world. 

Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind is the main message conveyed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to celebrate the World Food Day on October 16. “As they underlined, 2.4 billion people live in water- stressed countries and many of them are small-scale farmers or indigenous communities. Agriculture plays a central role in water use, accounting for 72% of global freshwater withdrawals,” added Mukiibi. 

Slow Food communities around the world daily experience water shortages, droughts and try to find natural solutions to meet their needs, both agricultural and personal ones. 

“Water is the cornerstone of our daily lives, our health and our future. However, in our community access to this vital resource is not always easy. We face persistent challenges: untimely water cuts, which forces us to think twice before using this precious resource, and scarcity”, reports Jean Martial Djèdjé from the Slow Food Jeunes Dynamiques pour la préservation de la biodiversité de Port-Bouet community in. “We are aware of the need to change things. We know that every drop of water is a gift from nature that must not be wasted. It’s time for us to unite as a community to raise awareness of the importance of water and advocate for reliable and accessible water facilities. We need to educate our neighbors about water conservation, fixing leaks and using this resource wisely.” Ivory Coast

According to Nakawooya Florence, reference of the Slow Food Kasaalu Kyogya Food Community in Uganda,< /span> “the water shortage in our area is increasingly becoming a big threat to our production practices. This has forced us to rethink our farming methods with a focus on soil conservation techniques like mulching to retain moisture. It’s a constant learning process, but we’re adapting to ensure sustainable production. The situation has forced us to explore innovative techniques like rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation to make every drop count. We have now a community pond where we tap running water from the rain and it is used in times of prolonged droughts. As agroecological producers, we have witnessed the devastating impact of water scarcity on our livelihoods. We started collaborating with local communities to explore alternative water sources to safeguard our farming practices. Through this, we requested for the support from Slow Food Uganda to construct an underground tank to trap rainwater for irrigation. This water is mainly used for vegetable production which ensures constant supply.” 

“Chiloé is an archipelago in the south of Chile composed of one large island and 40 smaller ones, in an area of ​​high rainfall. However, there are many places where water is scarce and communities must receive water by truck when it stops raining for a couple of weeks,” added Marcela Ramos, Slow Food Chile President. “Chiloé has been declared by the State of Chile as an energy development pole due to the potential for electricity production from the installation of wind farms. Unfortunately, this installation is made at the top of the mountain range where water accumulates thanks to the peat bogs and pomponales, destroying the water reserves of our island. The profits of this electric energy production go to transnational companies that are not responsible for the effects of their activity. Chiloé is a GIAHS site (FAO) and yet there is no protection of our territory by decision makers.”

Slow Food is actively participating in the SANAPI project: water, land, forest, the web of biodiversity and the protection of bee work, which in Bolivia aims to create more sustainable conditions for the use of natural resources in the focus areas, particularly by protecting and strengthening the environmental functions of the forest in favor of the quantity and quality of available water.

What is the solution?

“Again, the solution can be found in agroecology. Improved soil water management is actually at the heart of sustainable food production and sustainable agricultural water management is one of the principles on which agroecology bases its foundations.” Specifically it refers to sustainable use of on-farm water resources by managing the soil-water system through an optimized use of water sources: rainfall water and irrigation as well as through the reduction of water losses. “It is time to adopt a soft water path, reducing the demand, instead of asking for more.”  

More broadly and according to Slow Food, agroecology represents a holistic and integrated approach which can ensure universal access to a nutrient-rich diet that is culturally appropriate, preserves biodiversity and natural resources, mitigates the climate crisis and restores the central role of farmers in the agrifood system, also promoting social justice and human rights. Many agroecological practices of water management, in fact, aim at enhancing soil water retention capacity other than demanding for increasing supply as water is becoming more and more a scarce resource.  




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