Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

16 October 2023

World Food Day

Farmers are the guardians of our natural resources, and they need to be given the tools and technologies to help manage water sustainably for the future of food. 

Conduct a water audit to identify where you could save water. Regularly check and repair leaks or overflows and insulate your pipes for energy savings. Harvest rainwater during rainier seasons or fill water storage reservoirs for times when less water is available. Discover if you can take part in local capacity building or incentive schemes for greater water efficiency. 


More effective action is needed to cut the pollution of waterways from farming. Farmers can take action by reading and following product labels and using pesticides safely to minimize environmental risks. Learn how to properly store, handle, fill and wash-down areas, to avoid spills. Another option could be to explore effective natural alternatives.


When food is lost, so are tonnes of water. Learn how to increase income and reduce consumer prices by tackling post-harvest crop losses. By harvesting at the right time, improving storage, drying, and harnessing data from forecasts and analytics, as well as technologies for pest resistance, farmers can help reduce food loss and in turn water loss.


Sustainable agricultural practices are kinder on the environment and can make more efficient use of water, while providing better protection against climate change. A range of practices include sustainable soils or water management, diversification, use of cover crops, no-till and reduced-till systems, integrated crop-livestock-forestry and pest management systems, sustainable agroforestry, and precision farming.


Farmers can build resilience by looking into irrigation systems that are more productive and less damaging for the environment. They can also consider seed varieties that are more resistant to drought and disease, livestock that are suited to warmer temperatures, stormproof ponds and cages for fish, or plant trees that are heat and drought tolerant.


Start or join a farmers’ organization or cooperative to make sure your voice is heard, or gain access to training, finance, mechanization and digital technologies. Embrace the voices, ideas and knowledge of others who often go unheard – women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples.


Look for community initiatives and programmes that promote fair, effective and efficient use of water, as well as conflict management through collaboration. Community-based approaches work through reflection, group learning and increased engagement, helping farmers to better adopt innovative methods.


Foodborne illnesses are often a result of consuming food contaminated from poor-quality water. Farmers need to address water quality and food safety risks at farm-level to prevent food contamination at its source. Managing water quality in the context of food safety will reduce the exposure to harmful pathogens in water and the resultant food supply.


Digital technologies can improve water management and resilience by helping farmers and fishers work more precisely, efficiently and sustainably. Join thousands of farmers on FAO’s Digital Service Portfolio and gain access to useful data, information, maps and statistics. On the E-Agriculture forum, people around the world exchange information, ideas, and resources related to sustainable agriculture and rural development.


Raise awareness about and encourage the sharing of water fetching responsibilities between women and men, boys and girls. Less time spent fetching water means more time at school and work, improving access to education and decent work.