Creating Emerging Markets Sustainability Series – Innovations to Address the Global Water Crisis

Cover image features Rosario Bazán (left) and Anil Jain (right).

Between March 22 – 24th, world and business leaders from sectors spanning agriculture, energy and the environment met at the UN Headquarters in New York for the 2023 Water Conference. The three-day summit was the first major UN conference on the topic since 1977, and it took place in the context of a newly released UNESCO report revealing that “26% of the world’s population doesn’t have access to safe drinking water [while] 46% lacks access to basic sanitation.” This stark reality demonstrates an urgent need for action in order to make meaningful progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 of reaching universal access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030. Richard Connor, editor-in-chief of the report, discussed the enormous gap between our current situation and the UN SDG goal at a press conference, articulating how “there will definitely be a global crisis” if stakeholders do not act swiftly to address water scarcity.

Agriculture represents one of the most pressing areas for action on behalf of policy and business leaders, given that it accounts for approximately 70% of global water use. Speaking about the agricultural sector’s role in the global water crisis, Connor argued that “irrigation for crops has to be more efficient – as it is in some countries that now use drip irrigation, which saves water.” Innovations such as drip irrigation present an opportunity for significant water conservation, especially when one considers the fact that agricultural production will need to increase (by at least 60% according to some estimates) to meet a rising global food demand.

The CEM project has interviewed leaders in agribusiness from emerging markets who have successfully implemented such water-conserving innovations. Below, we highlight two of these business leaders from Peru and India who have invested in drip irrigation systems and “precision farming” techniques. These technologies and methods have allowed local farmers to use water more efficiently, while also boosting their production and crop yields.

  • Rosario Bazán is the Co-Founder and General Manager of Danper, a leading agribusiness based in Peru. Founded in 1994, Bazán built a company that today is known for the quality of its produce and strides in sustainability. Over the course of her interview, she discusses Danper’s role towards advancing modern farming techniques which have allowed Peru to become increasingly competitive in the global agricultural market.

    “Peru is now engaging in sustainable farming, because we are carefully using water, providing every single plant across the thousands of acres that we sow with the right water dose. We are working on precision farming as a result of this innovation. With the dripping system on hoses, we are giving every plant the right amount of water and fertilizer it needs based on its size. With innovation, we are raising our productivity and, therefore, becoming more competitive, so that markets can choose us.” – Page 79-80 of Interview Transcript

Download this video clip as well as Rosario Bazán’s full interview transcript for more information on Danper’s commitments to environmental sustainability and how they have led to water-saving innovations that support Peru’s growing agricultural sector.

  • Anil Jain is CEO and Vice Chairman of Jain Irrigation Systems Limited, a multinational manufacturing company based in India which specializes in drip and sprinkler irrigation systems. Since its incorporation as a public limited company in 1986, the company has played a leading role to advance the use of drip irrigation technology as a water-saving alternative to traditional flood irrigation. In his interview, Jain describes the establishment of a research, development and demonstration farm to show farmers and the government how the benefits outweigh the costs of setting up and maintaining these new systems. Furthermore, the demonstration farms showcase that it is possible to simultaneously use less water and improve agricultural production.

    “India has about seventeen percent of the world’s population, but we have only four percent of the world’s freshwater resources. In fact, even that is depleting rapidly because whatever water becomes grey or polluted cannot be re-used properly. So usable water is actually reducing, while you really need to produce more, and therefore, we have been focusing on the issue of water use efficiency […] Earlier, farmers would typically use up almost 90 percent of their water store. With drip irrigation system, they use hardly 33 percent. So with same amount of water, you can double or triple your irrigated area.” – Page 18-19 of Interview Transcript

Watch this video clip and download Anil Jain’s full interview transcript to learn how Jain Irrigation continues to invest in R&D and innovation in order to both scale their business and counter the impending global water crisis.