The word global
has been at the forefront of international media headlines for the past few years usually linked to the Covid-19 Pandemic and more recently the increasingly stretched supply chains of world trade. These events have highlighted how interconnected the world's peoples and economies are and have proven how difficult, if not impossible, it is to isolate ourselves from decisions and events occurring outside our borders. Perhaps it is this realisation that has given greater impetus and increased commitments to finding solutions to the other global crisis – Climate Change.
The news from COP-26 and the extreme weather phenomena that we have seen happening in the world around us recently has driven the point home. It is not enough that we understand the science of Climate Change, nor is it enough that we support the sentiments of many conscientious people around the globe, we must Act.
While a global phenomenon, the impacts of climate change are unlikely to be felt equally across the globe. There will be winners and losers. Unfortunately, Southern Africa is likely to be on the losing side.
South Africa’s National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS) of 2013 identified that “we are fast approaching full utilisation of available surface water yields, and are running out of suitable sites for new dams. In addition, climate change outcomes in terms of rainfall and temperature will have a negative impact on water storage.”
This is likely to be old news to most South Africans, especially those within the agriculture community. We know that in South Africa there is a greater demand for water than supply, with many catchments being over-subscribed. The recent droughts in most parts of the country have reinforced this message. Even now, in the middle of the summer rainfall season, many parts of South Africa are dry with the Daily Maverick reporting on the drought affecting the Eastern Cape and especially its metros.
Have irrigators around the world sufficiently considered how they will respond to their “day zero” scenarios when the water supply runs out? How do we deal with this?
We must act, both as individuals and as a sector, water losses must be minimised and technologies that utilise water more efficiently must be adopted. Irrigation, as a major water use, can look to the advanced design of systems that are both energy and water efficient, and they must be backed up by competent management systems and trained people.
The long-term benefits of optimised systems are beyond debate. Water and energy are the two factors that will determine your profit and loss, your surplus or drought.
To act is not a choice, either we decide to change and seize the opportunities this crisis presents or the decision will be made for us, by an increasingly growing water and energy conscious public applying pressure to governments, funders and markets.
I like to think that this is a challenge to which South African (and African) agriculture is uniquely suited, we are used to the concepts of scarcity and the need to do more with less to be competitive in global markets. We are used to making difficult decisions when required. We have weathered numerous challenges and most importantly, somehow maintain our optimism for the future.
We at MBB look forward to partnering with you, acting, and finding solutions that best suit your needs to future-proof your business. Please contact us so we can turn your headache into an opportunity.