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By  Ramesha Perera 16 October 2023 3 min read

Key points

  • We are supporting Indian and Bangladeshi farmers to build resilient communities by adopting climate smart practices.
  • The project has empowered women farmers to tap new resources and break into a male-dominated industry.
  • World Food Day promotes water-efficient food production and equitable distribution.

This #WorldFoodDay, we want to talk about water.

It's a vital ingredient for agricultural success and a key player in ensuring food security. This is why we’re calling for greater efficiency in how we use water in a range of industries  from producing food, to growing animal feed and generating biofuel. The goal is to do all this (and more) while ensuring water is distributed equally.

It’s a significant challenge. Growing populations and increasing urbanisation are driving competition for water resources. Meanwhile, our climate is changing, and agriculture is feeling the impact.

In response, we are working to create various high-performing crops and implement water management systems in Australia. Even as we make progress, we’re determined that nobody should be left behind. That sentiment is the driving force behind our international collaboration efforts.

We want to deliver real-world benefits that make a positive impact in the lives of people everywhere.

Women in agriculture are among the key beneficiaries of our programs. ©  Carmel Pollino / CSIRO

Climate smart tech helps deliver food security

The DFAT-CSIRO Sci-Tech4Climate Partnership is an initiative working to change the lives of millions. The program seeks to implement climate sustainability measures and safeguard the livelihoods of people in the region. It sets out to develop and enable adoption of climate smart and profitable agricultural technologies. Adopting such processes help farming communities, which includes women, achieve and maintain food security. In addition, they improve nutrition, and increase net income.

Through this collaboration, the project has tested and developed climate-smart technologies to grow resilient crops. Examples include high-yielding short-duration rice, zero-tillage potato, garlic, sunflower, maize, watermelon and other crops. These developments are made possible through systems of stronger and integrated soil, water and crop management.

Diversifying crops, improving incomes

So far, changes have yielded impressive outcomes for farmers. It underscores the immense potential for enhancing cropping intensity in the region.

High-yield rice has expanded farmers' options, allowing them to grow a variety of crops in both wet and dry seasons. Farmers have also become more knowledgeable, skilful, and receptive to new ideas. This has improved their farm management. Farmers have chosen to share their new knowledge with peers, bringing more land under climate-resilient cropping, which includes implementing key safe circular water usage techniques.

Safe circular water usage refers to a sustainable approach to managing and using water resources. When done correctly, this minimises waste, pollution, and environmental harm while ensuring equitable access to clean and safe water for all. The concept is closely related to the broader idea of the circular economy, which aims to reduce waste and keep resources in use for as long as possible.

Empowering women in farming

The project has provided significant economic and livelihood benefits, particularly for women and their families.  It has increased female farmers’ access to new agricultural technologies and associated advisory services. This helps balance out farming support services which are predominantly directed towards men.

Group participation has also increased the social capital of women and led to capacity building. Women now have access to and awareness of other technologies, institutions, services, and markets. Increased confidence and collective decision-making have enhanced receptiveness to new ideas, along with other fringe benefits enjoyed by women farmers. 

Safe and sustainable water management

The project is creating significant food security and livelihood enhancement opportunities. However, continuation and expansion of activities are necessary to increase the scale and impacts of efforts.

As part of the DFAT-CSIRO Sci-Tech4Climate Partnership, we are hosting two associate professors from the Department of Environmental Sciences, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU). The program will allow them to gain greater understanding of safe and sustainable water management systems.

P.C. Prabu is an Associate Professor at TNAU. He believes water is life.

Dr P. C. Prabu (right) and Dr K. Boomiraj (left) working in the Soil Physics Laboratory at our Black Mountain site.

“This training visit will enhance my skill development in water usage for crop production, smart farming technologies and management of treated wastewater for irrigation and drainage systems,” Prabu said. 

“I hope to share this knowledge back home so that India can adapt to the world’s changing climate conditions and implement safe circular water usage so that everyone has access to safe water.”

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