Food security: Call for better policies for more efficient water use in agriculture

Lack of harmonization and linkage of water management and natural resource policies, lack of maintenance of water infrastructure, gender blind technologies, farmers inability to use appropriate technologies due to lack of know-how and poor access to credit, were identified as some of the key factors that hinder the efficient use of water in agriculture in Tanzania.  These in turn contribute to conflict over water among various users as well as wastage of the scarce resource.
The issues were identified by stakeholders from the relevant sectors such as agriculture, the environment, and land and water at a meeting in Dar es Salaam that aimed at identifying the key issues affecting efficient use of water for agricultural production including use of appropriate technologies and making policy recommendations.
The workshop is part of the activities of the Policy Action for Climate Change Action (PACCA) project whose goal is to inform and link policies and institutions from national to local level for the development and adoption of climate-resilient food systems in Uganda and Tanzania.
The discussions were based on the findings of a study on the Cost-Benefit Analysis on Water Use Technologies (WUT) in Tanzania which was funded by PACCA and conducted by the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA).  
“We need to increase our agricultural production in order to ensure the country is food and nutrition secure. At the same time, diminishing water resources are at crisis level, hence we need to use water resources efficiently so they can cater for both agriculture and other sectors of the economy,” said Dr Frederick Kahimba, one of the researchers.
The researchers conducted a cost-benefit analysis of existing appropriate water use technologies for smallholder farmers to assist policy makers in identifying the best options to promote. From the study, drip irrigation was found to have the highest monetary return with a nearly double return for every shilling invested. System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and community micro-dams were other technologies that had high returns at nearly 40% and 21%, respectively.   Other technologies include traditional canals/furrow system and construction of terraces.
At the end of the workshop, the participants came up with a set of recommendations on the priority issues to be tackled including review of and harmonization of existing water-use policies.

According to Perez Muchunguzi, a Multi-stakeholder Specialist with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and part of PACCA project team, the workshop was very useful and marked an important milestone for the project.
“This event is part of a series of meetings that the project has been conducting to support the development of appropriate policies on food security and climate change that are informed by science.  We were able to bring various relevant decision makers and implementers in one room to dialog and identify priority issues and gaps and give policy recommendations for the water sector which is very important for climate change and food security, using input from research,” he said. 
The opening of the workshop was officiated by Magdalena J. Mtenga,  Assistant   Director, Environmental Pollution Control Section, in the Vice President’s Office on behalf of the Deputy Permanent Secretary.  The closing was done by the Acting Director-General of the National Irrigation Commission (NIC), Seth Luswema. They both lauded the event for its effort to support the country put in place measures to prepare for climate change.
PACCA is a project of the CGIAR Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) led by IITA in collaboration with the Environmental Management Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives.

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