In many countries, water resources are overexploited and drinking water is becoming scarce. At the same time, climate change is making matters worse. With focused projects we help producers of fruit, vegetables and flowers to use water more sparingly.

Reducing water consumption in agriculture

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), agriculture consumes around 70 percent of the world's fresh water. In countries with limited water resources, this is becoming an increasingly serious issue. Therefore, in those countries we implement various measures for the efficient use of water in agriculture. Together with the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, we have conducted a comprehensive risk analysis on the subject of water. «Water stress» in the countries where our fruit and vegetables are produced has also been investigated. This involved checking whether there is sufficient precipitation and whether water is being overexploited as a resource.

More efficient water consumption

  • SPRING standard for water management: With the WWF and GLOBAL G.A.P., a global certification system, we have developed the SPRING standard for water management. SPRING stands for «Sustainable Program for Irrigation and Groundwater Use» and governs sustainable water usage in the production of fruit and vegetables. As a first step, this standard is now being rolled out at all our fruit and vegetable producers in Spain and Morocco. It will then be expanded to other countries and regions with scarce water supplies, such as South Africa, Peru, southern Italy and Mexico.
  • Local water offsetting projects: In the Agadir region of Morocco, with the support of the Coop Sustainability Fund we have ascertained how much water is used in the production of fruit and vegetables for Coop. That same quantity is now being saved, in the same region, by measures such as rainwater collection containers or drip-feed irrigation systems.
  • Targeted irrigation: For strawberry production in Spain, together with our producers we have begun measuring the moisture content of the soil and only watering as needed. This reduces water requirements by around 30 percent.
  • Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS): Together with the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), we have staged a pilot project for the implementation of the new AWS water standard at our main asparagus producer in Peru. As part of the project, representatives of producers, non-governmental organizations, the local population and representatives of local government received training in sustainable water management, then underwent an audit.

Reduction of water stress

  • Pilot project to implement the new water standard at our main asparagus producers in Peru.
    Photo: Raphael Schilling
  • The pilot project was carried out together with the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.
    Photo: Raphael Schilling
  • Representatives of the producers and the local government as well as the local population were trained in sustainable water management.
    Photo: Raphael Schilling
  • Since water is a resource used worldwide, we are committed to sustainable water management at a higher level.
    Photo: Raphael Schilling

Participation in international committees and alliances

Water is a resource that is used around the globe, necessitating global solutions to ensure that it is used sustainably. We are therefore committed at a high level to sustainable water management.

  • GLOBALG.A.P. Water Stakeholder Committee: GLOBALG.A.P. is a standard for good agricultural practice that covers every stage of production, from sowing to delivery. Through our active participation on this Committee, we have ensured that comprehensive criteria on efficient water use have been integrated into this standard.
  • Water Benefit Partners: We have also joined this public private partnership, which is dedicated to innovative financing models for water. The actual water savings in specific projects are recorded and certified. These certificates have been tradeable since 2014.

Individual projects in southern hemisphere countries

We support small farmers and producers in the southern hemisphere with knowledge and technology to help them establish more efficient water management.

Micro-irrigation systems: Together with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and other retailers, as part of a joint sustainability project we have fitted more than 30,000 rural households in India, Africa and Central America with modern micro-irrigation systems. These can also be used to irrigate small areas of 20 square metres or more. Smallholders who use the systems can save water, increase productivity and work with self-produced, organic fertilizers.

Training courses: Naturally, we train the farmers in the use of the systems and the production of the fertilizer. Such irrigation systems have enabled numerous smallholders to produce fruit and vegetables for the local market in their own gardens. In addition to the income from the sale of their Fairtrade products to us, this gives them an extra income that helps assure them of food security.

Use of micro-irrigation systems

  • We support small farmers and producers in developing more efficient water management.
    Agriculture in Madagascar
  • More than 30,000 rural households in India, Africa and Central America have been equipped with modern small-scale irrigation systems.
    Accessories for a micro-irrigation system
  • The systems can also be used to irrigate small areas from 20 square metres.
    Demonstration of the new irrigation system
  • Small farmers can thus save water and increase productivity.
    Selection of seeds
  • Thanks to the irrigation systems, small farmers can produce fruit and vegetables for the local market in their own gardens.
    Targeted irrigation
  • By selling their products on the local market, farmers have an additional income that contributes to food security.
    Reading once the work is done