Farmers are at the centre of any process of change and need to be encouraged and guided, through appropriate incentives and governance practices, to conserve natural ecosystems and their biodiversity and minimize their negative impact, a goal that will only be achieved if the appropriate policies are in place.
Irrigation institutions must respond to the needs of farmers, ensuring more and reliable delivery of water, increasing transparency in its management and balancing efficiency and equity in access to water. This will not only require changes in attitudes, but also well targeted investments in infrastructure modernization, institutional restructuring and upgrading of the technical capacities of farmers and water managers.
The agriculture sector faces a complex challenge: producing more food of better quality while using less water per unit of output; providing rural people with resources and opportunities to live a healthy and productive life; applying clean technologies that ensure environmental sustainability; and contributing in a productive way to the local and national economy.
FAO’s water programme is shaped along the lines dictated by these new challenges, in order to better respond to the needs of its member countries.