Hindustan Unilever Foundation & Solidaridad launch water-efficiency programme

Project aims to create sustainable supply chains across 38 districts of India.

Solidaridad and Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF) have jointly launched one of the largest water linked sustainable supply chain interventions in India that aims to cumulatively and collectively save 0.4 to 1 trillion litres of water through sustainable agriculture. The programme aims to create large-scale water saving mechanisms that touch 779 thousand workers and farmers engaged in sugarcane, cotton, soy and tea sub-sectors. The project will develop an accurate water measurement mechanism through a practical and credible water foot-printing exercise.

Solidaridad through its commodity based sustainability supply chain programmes is directly contributing poverty alleviation by supporting producers in certification process, market access and developing sustainable crop production. Currently it has various sustainable crop production support programmes for major crops in India in close partnership with diverse stakeholders (producers, NGOs, communities, businesses, etc). These programmes aim to improve crop productivity per unit area and profitability of farming adopting sustainable agriculture practices in 38 districts of 9 states covering an area of 677,880 hectares. These programmes envisage balancing economic, environmental and social aspect of crop production whilst creating market access to farmers and their families to ensure appropriate market price and cash flow in time enabling them to live with dignity.

However, these programmes are not focussed on water conservation, which is crucial for sustainable agricultural practices. This is where HUF and Solidaridad have joined hands to explore decentralised water efficient end use in various crops associated with supply chains and further the use of saved water for diversified cropping. Both Solidaridad and HUF believe that the programme has the potential to go beyond the value chain approach and enthuse business to invest on issues like water management in the societies they operate. At the heart of this programme lies the principle of collaboration and active involvement of the stakeholders. Some of the major stakeholders from sugar sector supporting this initiative are EID Parry and Rajshree Sugars. The program also draws in the energy of local NGOs and other institutions to deepen collaborative arrangements

Shared agenda

Both Solidaridad and HUF believe the programme would be able to move forward with the following shared agenda:

1. Focus on the demand side water management in agriculture done in different agro-climatic zones and diverse hydrological areas and has the ambition to collaboratively look at value chain of individual businesses for large scale impact

2. The project seeks to build the capacity of smallholders, workers as well as communities for reducing water application in the crops.

3. It seeks to enhance agricultural production in the selected region

4. Involve smallholders, workers and businesses to join water platforms and enable them to engage on policy dialogues around water management in agriculture in select crops

5. The programme seeks to clearly to demonstrate success through measurement of impact by independent third party assessment.

This would hopefully provide the momentum to turnaround the degrading water sources.

“Crops like sugarcane alone used an estimated 61 trillion liters of water in India during the season of 2012-2013. But at the same time sustainable agriculture as promoted by Solidaridad could assist in meeting the requirements of future populations of India to produce more food, feed, fibre, and fuel (4Fs) without making competing claims over the limited agricultural land available and with less water” said Shatadru Chattopadhayay, Managing Director of Solidaridad Network Asia.

As Ravi Puranik CEO, HUF says, “The collaborative nature of this program sees the engagement of multiple actors in the private sector and their supply chains, producer groups, NGOs and others in Hindustan Unilever Foundation’s (HUF) journey on “Water for Public Good” in India. It weaves water as a common wave across the ongoing initiatives of Solidaridad and leverages on the existing networks and resources to enhance social return on investment for all the stakeholders. It aligns with the framework for independent assurance adopted by HUF and tests it for a crop water demand management oriented endeavor”

About Solidaridad

Solidaridad is an international organizationactive in more than 58 countries across the world. It isdedicated to responsible food production to feed the growing world population and to providing the world with an alternative to fossil fuels like oil and gas.

Solidaridad is convinced that the agricultural sector can produce more efficiently so that it will be able to feed the world population in 2050, as well as supply energy and plastic to the industry. That is why Solidaridad is investing in enterprising farmers in developing countries and putting emphasis on the improvement of their land use, so that production can increase while at the same time harm to people and the environment is decreased.

See more at : www.solidaridadnetwork.org

About Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF)

HUF was established in 2010 to further the community development initiatives of Hindustan Unilever Limited. HUF supports national priorities for conserving natural resources and thereby contributing to socio-economic development, through its “Water for Public Good” programme.

This program has three core principles: Governance of water, Quantity of water, and benefits to the community. It has initiated several projects across different river basins and varied hydrological regimes in India that go well beyond Hindustan Unilever value chain. At the heart of these projects lies the principle of collaboration through active community involvement and participation of co-funders.

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