FAO and IFAD launch new project to increase water productivity for sustainable nutrition-sensitive agriculture

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the Government of Rwanda have unveiled a new project aimed to increase water productivity, improve food and nutrition security and sustaining water resources.

The 3-year project titled “Increasing Water Productivity for Sustainable Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Production and Improved Food Security”, will strengthen capacities of smallholder farmers for the adoption of sustainable water management and nutrition-sensitive agriculture practices that will in-turn increase their yields, incomes and nutritional outcomes.

The project will promote a more integrated approach of “more nutrients and better economic prospects per drop”, through the development of a tool and guidelines to estimate how the choice of crops, water management and best farm practices can be modified to ensure the production of high nutrient density crops and crop diversification.

Why nutrition-sensitive agriculture water productivity matters 

Global statistics show that agriculture is the biggest water user, accounting for approximately 70 percent of total freshwater withdrawals globally. With increasing water scarcity amplified by the growing intersectoral competition, climate change, rapid population growth and changes in food habits that are associated with a high prevalence of the triple malnutrition, there is a need for concerted efforts to address the issue of efficiency and productivity of agricultural production with a nutrition lens. 

Therefore, the project, will address the issue of efficiency on the use of scarce resources in agriculture production by linking water use efficiency in agriculture production and nutrition. It will explore both rainfed and irrigated agriculture as rainfed agriculture represents the bulk of agriculture in the piloted countries.

Aside Rwanda, this pilot project will also be implemented in five countries; Mozambique, Benin, Niger Egypt, and Jordan, financed to a tune of USD 2 million.

“The Government of Rwanda has put in a place a number of sound strategies to achieve Water, Food Security and Nutrition. Under the fourth Strategy Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA4), we have planned effective and efficient Irrigation under integrated Water Resources management framework targeting to irrigate 48 000 ha – 102 000ha,” said Emile RUZIBIZA, Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board

“The impact expected from the project is improved income, food security and nutrition through increased water productivity in the communities where the project will be implemented. It is evident that a conducive institutional and policy environment is needed to achieve the agricultural transformation required to increase water productivity for nutrition sensitive agriculture and improved food security and nutrition the objective of the project. The project will also look into that,” said Gualbert Gbehounou, FAO Representative in Rwanda. 

“The project jointly promoted by FAO and IFAD, will provide an additional opportunity to support the Government of the Republic of Rwanda strategies and efforts to enhance nutrition, food security, and resilience. It will support IFAD’s effort in Rwanda and in other countries to mainstream nutrition and climate-sensitive agriculture practices in its supported operations,” said Francesco Maria Rispoli, IFAD Country Director in Rwanda. 

“The project will catalyse partnerships that will support to address the constraints to smallholder farmers’ sustainable access to remunerative markets, by linking the farmers benefiting from the project with structured demand programs such as the home-grown school feeding programmes and other initiatives from the private sector in Rwanda, as an incentive for the increased production of high nutrient density crops and crop diversification,” said Paulo Dias, Project Manager from FAO Land and Water Division. (End)

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