Irrigation is one of the fundamental pillars of the agri-food system and rural development in our country. Sustainable water management and the new technologies applied to this objective are a priority for irrigators and in FENACORE We have been fully committed to these objectives for decades.
From the National Federation of Irrigation Communities of Spain (FENACORE) represents 700,000 irrigators and practically two million hectares, i.e. more than 80% of irrigated land. Our sector is today a benchmark, an example of modernisation throughout the country and also recognised beyond our borders. We are an essential ally in advancing towards sustainable water management.
Spain has one of the most competitive and internationally recognised models. By now, no one doubts that the sustainable management of water resources is essential to meet food needs with maximum security and promote sustainable development.
The very definition of sustainable development imposes two conditions on us: satisfying the food needs of the current generation and using means of production that are not aggressive towards natural resources so as not to damage the environment and guarantee the subsistence of future generations.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)based on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, make this very clear. And the Federación Nacional de Comunidades de Regantes de España (FENACORE) (National Federation of Irrigation Communities of Spain) is firmly committed to these 17 Goals, which can be grouped into two large blocks that are of direct relevance to us.
The first of these, related to raising the standard of living and well-being of people, involves eliminating poverty and hunger, as well as improving health and access to water and energy for the entire growing world population.
The second is linked to the improvement of nature and the environment, as well as mitigating the effects of climate change.
We must not forget that, in this context, irrigation is a major activity and we must respond to the foreseeable increase in the management of the availability of resources with a sustainable managementas we have been doing for years.
It is also essential for structuring the territory and for fixing the population in rural areas. And the environmental benefits are fundamental: it prevents soil erosion, consumes CO2 and contributes to the preservation of biodiversity.
To cover growing food needs, it is necessary to increase the amount of water available for irrigation. And in the face of scarcity, which is aggravated in periods of drought such as the current one, it is essential to seek alternative and complementary resources to conventional ones.
A dramatic situation
In our country, we are currently facing a very complicated time due to the drought. At the moment, rainfed crops (cereals, oilseeds, etc.) in the southern half of the peninsula are already lost, with practically no harvest. As for irrigated crops, there are basins such as the Guadalquivir, with an allocation of 700 m3/ha, which is only enough to irrigate little more than 1 in 10 hectares and is leading the sector to complete ruin.
In the case of the Internal Basins of Catalonia, and in areas of the Ebro, the situation is equally disastrous, while the Guadiana and Segura basins will also face significant restrictions on irrigation. In the rest of the basins, the context is worsening and all this will be aggravated by the forecast of no rain in the coming weeks.
In this regard, irrigated farmers are calling for both short-term measures to help alleviate the serious impacts of drought on crops, and structural measures to prevent and make the sector more resilient to drought.
At FENACORE we believe that, now more than ever, we need a State Pact for Water, as one of the structural measures necessary to fight against drought and avoid the rise in food prices, which continue to reach record highs.
But we also propose a series of urgent and necessary actions, within the framework of a coordinated action plan that the government must implement to contain prices and guarantee food production.
It is important to stress that irrigation is the engine that feeds the world and, if the government continues to look the other way, the viability of a large number of crops will be seriously jeopardised by the generalised lack of water. The losses will be historic for farmers and the public will suffer a price hike unprecedented in recent years.
Fenacore represents a vital sector for the economy, employment and rural development. We guarantee a secure supply and we are a benchmark, thanks to a great effort and an investment of millions of euros in modernisation over the last decades.
The challenge of moving towards sustainable and efficient management of our most precious resource, the basis for life, food and the sustainability of the planet, unites us all. We have amply demonstrated that we are an example and an essential ally.
For all these reasons, and thanks to our performance in water management, we are positioned as a major player. And we need to make our voice heard. Not only because we have proven a successful model, but also because we are talking about an ethical imperative that binds us and commits us to the next generations and to our future as a country.