THE Global World Food Day ceremony has dawned today 16th October again with all focus that water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind. It continues that water is essential to life on Earth.
It covers the majority of the Earth’s surface, makes up over 50 per cent of our bodies, produces our food, and supports livelihoods. But this precious resource is not infinite and we need to stop taking it for granted. What we eat, and how that food is produced all affect water.
Together, we can take water action for food and be the change. As the list grows, we realize that building resilient food systems that leave no one behind every year, require that we come together to celebrate the World Food Day as a family.
This global occasion serves as a reminder of the crucial role food plays in our lives and highlights the continuous efforts to eradicate hunger and promote sustainable agriculture.
In Tanzania, a nation blessed with diverse agricultural resources, the theme of “Water is life, water is food” holds profound significance, especially when viewed through the lens of the Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA) Tanzania.
Here, FtMA a consortium of public and private institutions aims to increase income and strengthen the resilience of smallholders, while simultaneously increasing commercial viability for all value chain stakeholders with the vision to enable sustainable food systems- through strengthened markets to empower farmers to increase their yields, incomes, and resilience and to improve African food security.
The pivotal role of water cannot be overstated. In the absence of sufficient and reliable access to water, crops wither, livestock suffer, and livelihoods are at risk. In Tanzania, where rainfed agriculture remains a common practice, the dependence on seasonal rains leaves farmers vulnerable to climate change and erratic weather patterns.
To address this challenge, it has taken the role of working towards promoting sustainable water management practices through the dissemination of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA). In the course, the programme has introduced smallholder farmers to innovative irrigation techniques, rainwater harvesting systems, and water-saving technologies.
Through these efforts, farmers are empowered to take charge of their water resources and, by extension, their food production. As global populations continue to grow, there is need to produce more food with less water while ensuring fair and equitable water distribution and access is equitable.
A case study to this, Yohana Ngovano (39), a smallholder farmer from Madbira, Mbarali District Mbeya, who like many others, used to rely solely on rain-fed agriculture leaving him vulnerable to unpredictable weather patterns, but with the coming of the programme, he has experienced significant improvements.
Through FtMA s interventions and attending trainings on Climate Smart Agricultural, which included creating water-retaining pits, use of improved crop varieties, timely transplanting, system of rice intensification (SRI), a lot have been seen in their yields. Yohana has been able to efficiently utilize limited water resources for irrigation and still experience increases in yields and income.
In Situ -rainwater harvesting has allowed Yohana to capture and store rainwater directly in his paddy fields, ensuring adequate moisture for his crops even during dry spells. His story is just one of the many farmers who have been transformed due to our interventions.
By harnessing the power of water, smallholder farmers are increasing their productivity, reducing post-harvest losses, and making substantial contribution to food security in Tanzania.
The theme “Water is life, water is food” is a powerful reminder of the interconnectedness of our world, because Water is not just a resource; it’s a lifeline through which we can nourish our communities, empower our farmers, and ensure a food-secure Tanzania for generations to come. Together, we can build a world where water truly is life, and life is bountifully nourished by the fruits of our land.
Rapid population growth, urbanization, economic development, and climate change are putting the planet’s water resources under increasing stress.
At the same time, freshwater resources per person have declined 20 per cent6 in the past decades and water availability and quality are deteriorating fast due to decades of poor use and management, over extraction of groundwater, pollution and climate change. We risk stretching this precious resource to a point of no return.
Today, 2.4 billion people live in water-stressed countries. Many are smallholder farmers who already struggle to meet their daily needs, particularly women, Indigenous Peoples, migrants, and refugees. Competition for this priceless resource is increasing as water scarcity becomes an ever-increasing cause of conflict.
Around 600 million people who depend, at least partially, on aquatic food systems for a living are suffering the effects of pollution, ecosystem degradation, unsustainable practices and climate change.