Per capita water availability in Pakistan has dramatically declined over the past 20 years causing water to becoming a highly contested issue in the country with agriculture alone consuming around 93% of the fresh water available. Growing rice uses a lot of water and releases both greenhouse gas emissions and potent methane emissions which contribute to climate change. To address these sustainability issues, farmers and the government need to change their water usage and water management policies respectively.
That is why we have begun working with smallholder farmers in the Punjab region of Pakistan to train them in the use of water saving technologies such as land laser levelling and alternate wetting and drying. Wider dissemination of water stewardship advice at village level means that the project reach is much greater than the direct project beneficiaries. Through partnership with Helvetas, we are also engaging with the ever-changing policy dialogue in Pakistan, helping to shape the future of water governance.
These activities will not only have a positive effect on water usage in the area, the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) protocol address many overlapping issues such as health and safety, pesticide management and women’s rights. By working with the SRP, our aspiration is to enhance incomes, food security and water productivity of project beneficiaries whilst benefiting the surrounding ecosystem. In turn we are driving value for our business, reducing supply chain risks and helping to secure sustainable supply of basmati from Pakistan.
The United Nation’s Environmental Programme’s Sustainable Rice Platform is a multi-stakeholder partnership which collaborates with NGOs, private sectors and government to drive sustainability throughout the rice value chain.
Helvetas is an independent Swiss development organisation that implements development projects in the areas of water and sanitation, agriculture and nutrition, education, democracy and peace and climate change and the environment. Helvetas also provides emergency responses after disasters.