In commemoration of World Water Week, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and Nestlé organized a panel discussion on innovative irrigation solutions to decrease water wastage and improve agricultural productivity. The discussion was aligned with this year’s World Water Week theme focusing on innovative solutions for a water-wise world. Organized between 20th and 24th August this year, World Water Week highlights global water challenges, and exploring new ways of managing water.

During the discussion, panelists agreed on the need to promote collective action specific to Pakistan’s agriculture challenge as more than 90% of Pakistan’s water resources are used in the sector (FAO). Of this number, 50% is wasted due to mismanagement.

Nestlé’s flagship initiative on water stewardship, Caring for Water-Pakistan (C4W-Pakistan), is a lighthouse example for collective action. Sheikh Waqar Ahmad, Head of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Nestlé Pakistan said, “C4W-Pakistan is a blueprint for gauging collective action and has three pillars: factories, communities, and agriculture. Nestlé has so far made significant progress in all domains, specifically in agriculture by assisting farmers to shift to drip irrigation on 139 acres and installing Smart Soil Moisture Sensors on 548 acres in Punjab. Drip irrigation is currently being scaled up in Sindh.” These activities are in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 6, 13 and 17, he further iterated.

The C4W-Pakistan initiative was accelerated by the launch of Nestlé’s Waters Pledge in 2021. Under the Pledge, Nestlé’s Waters Business has committed to lead the regeneration of the water cycle to create positive impact by 2025. By the end of 2022, the company had achieved 58% of its target for 2025.

Dr. Abu Bakr Muhammad, Director Center for Water Informatics & Technology (WIT), LUMS, highlighted the need to place water at the core of action plans and policy.  He said, “There is an urgent need for communities, companies and governments to come up with innovative solutions to secure water that can help maintain the balance between people and nature.”

Former Senator and Minister Irrigation, Punjab, Mr. Mohsin Leghari emphasized that “In light of climate change, increasing food security issues, and considering we are an agrarian economy, it is imperative to improve agricultural productivity through efficient water management and modern irrigation methods.” 

Other notable speakers, including Business Executive Officer – Nestlé Waters Abdullah Jawaid, Member Committee on Water Issues in Islamabad Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, environmental journalist Zofeen Ebrahim, water expert Imran Saqib Khalid, owner Sukeki Farms Sultan Ahmed Bhatti, all stressed the urgency of advanced irrigations methods as part of water stewardship.