Agriculture is a water-intensive industry. Globally, about 70 percent of water withdrawals are due to agricultural activities, and only 30 percent are used for domestic and industrial purposes. Considering this, the agriculture industry stands to bear the brunt of the climate crisis. As droughts become more frequent and pervasive, the industry must find a way to ramp up the implementation of more sustainable water management practices. Doing so will enable it to withstand the impacts of climate change, as well as contribute to the efforts to avert the impending climate crisis.
Strategies to Save Water in Farming Communities in the Philippines
The Philippines has been described as an agricultural country, and this still holds in the digital age. Agriculture serves as the primary source of income for Filipinos who are living in poverty. The country has a total of 5.56 million farms, and about 38% of these farms have an area of half a hectare. Many small-scale holdings form agricultural communities that enable farming families to share land and water resources that are needed to sustain their operations. These communities are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and implementing water-saving strategies in these areas can help ensure the sustainability of the residents’ livelihoods.
By working hand-in-hand with water infrastructure Philippines developers, policymakers in the country can empower farming communities to sustainably use water resources and become more resilient to droughts, unpredictable precipitation, and other water supply stressors. This can be done by initiating water infrastructure projects in rural areas and making water resources readily available to farmers. To efficiently use water resources, communities and policymakers can jointly implement programs with the aim of:
Choosing More Efficient Irrigation Systems
Precision irrigation maximizes the use of water resources in agriculture, but it’s also a capital-intensive approach that is largely inaccessible to small farms and farming communities in the Philippines. There are, however, other means of achieving a balance between crop health and water management. Drip irrigation is an affordable option for optimizing water use in agricultural settings. This system makes use of a network of tubes that deliver water and nutrients near the roots of the plants. It reduces wasted water and fertilizer while ensuring that the crops are able to get the optimal amount of resources they need to grow healthy.
Using Information to Optimize Irrigation Practices
The farms in agricultural communities function alongside other farm operations. At times, smallholders must take turns utilizing water and other resources to ensure that there’s enough to go around. This means that some farmers are forced to water their crops even when it’s not optimal, such as during the middle of the day or while it’s raining, simply because they’re uncertain about the volume of water resources available to the community as a whole. Prudent and accurate weather and water forecasts, such as those provided by contemporary satellite technologies, can help farmers gauge when it’s best to irrigate their farms. Access to secure resources and reliable information will empower agricultural workers to make decisions based on their best judgment rather than fear and uncertainty.
Planting More Drought-Tolerant Crops
Choosing drought-resistant crops where and when possible, coupled with other water-saving measures, can go a long way in the effort to save and preserve water resources. Drought-resistant plants require less water, and they’re more resilient to the impacts of extended water shortages. To promote the use of the said crops to farmers, policymakers can launch marketing campaigns that advertise the consumption of drought-resistant food crops and produce to regular consumers. This will create a higher demand for the said products and give farmers more initiative to plant them in the first place. Policymakers can also offer incentives to farmers to encourage them to periodically shift to crops that require minimal irrigation.
Systematically Capturing and Storing Rainwater
Many places in the Philippines are prone to droughts during the summer months—and floods during the rainy ones. Farming communities with the means to collect and store water when there’s an excess of it during the rainy season won’t need to worry much about irrigation issues in summer. There’s an opportunity for water infrastructure developers, policymakers, and farming communities to work together and set up rain barrels in flood- and drought-prone areas. These facilities, in turn, will enable farmers to limit the damage caused by flooding and water scarcity in case these events occur in successive turns.
Practicing Crop Rotation and Rotation Grazing
Allowing livestock to graze between fields can promote pasture regrowth, which in turn improves the field’s water absorption capacity and reduces instances of water runoff. Crop rotation also improves soil structure and helps prevent soil erosion. These practices can help make a field more drought-tolerant as well as improve the quality of the soil, conditions that will give the next batch of crops higher chances of flourishing.
Making efficient use of water resources in the agricultural industry requires consolidated efforts from farming communities, the government, and the private sector. By working together, these stakeholders can ensure the country’s food security while preserving the livelihood of farming communities and transforming agricultural work into a more sustainable and rewarding career.