Currently in Palestine, water demand greatly exceeds water supply and the high price of water severely limits the 20% of the Palestinian labour force who are employed in agriculture. Subsequently, farmers’ livelihoods are threatened, as is food availability for the Palestinian people.
In 2007, the Palestinian Farmers’ Union (PFU) set up a Water and Environment Program to promote the equitable access of water and to strengthen farmers’ associations to better manage water distribution and agricultural water demand. As part of the scheme, farmers are encouraged to adopt innovative approaches to optimize their use of water and fight water shortages.
Through the project, about 80 farmers in Jericho City – Jordan Valley – benefited from new on-farm irrigation equipments to irrigate more than 50 ha of agricultural land. The project also provided farmers with the appropriate training for such systems. An experimental pilot project to control fertilizer application was also produced.
Additionally, the PFU lobbied the authorities to place farmers and water users at the centre of the decision process, to win farmers the right to manage irrigation water resource by themselves. As the final beneficiaries, they are consequently the most aware of their own needs and can create the most effective solutions.
The two-year water optimization project led to significant results, including a 30% increase on water savings, 25% increase on inputs savings and 15% in yield increases.
- The reduction of inputs means an increase of 15 to 25% of farmers’ income.
- Farmers, who are at the bottom of the food security chain, are back in the decision process.
- Farmers can better manage water resources, collaborate and negotiate with other stakeholders.
To better manage an irrigation network, the PFU assists farmers in their efforts to organize themselves and create water user associations (WUAs) in which farmers are responsible for fully overseeing the operation of the agricultural water delivery facility. Building the capacities of both WUAs and farmers is the backbone of success for this transfer of knowledge.
This initiative was provided by the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP).