World Water Day reminds us of the hidden treasure of groundwater
Many water initiatives around the globe underline BASF’s vegetable seeds business commitment to saving water, proper wastewater treatment and improved access to clean water for our communities – not only on World Water Day.
On March 22 of each year, the United Nations celebrates water and its importance for mankind on World Water Day. This year’s theme is “Groundwater – making the invisible visible”.
With its comprehensive sustainability agenda, Vegetable Seeds has always placed a focus not only on saving water in its operations and agricultural cultivation, but also on improving access to clean water in underserved regions and communities.
“In India, we carry out sanitation projects in the villages surrounding our operations,” explains Satish Vadrahalli, Head of Farms Asia Pacific at Vegetable Seeds. “We not only clean the water we use at our sites, but also run projects for clean drinking water for our communities together with government bodies and NGOs from 2015 onwards. The objective was on ensuring increased health benefits with families using treated water and reducing the household expenditure through purchase of clean drinking water from the Reverse Osmosis plants at an affordable rate.”
Almost all the liquid freshwater in the world is groundwater and especially dry regions depend entirely on groundwater. Therefore, it is not only important to improve people’s access to it, but also to make sure that less water is being used. Throughout the globe, we are helping farmers – including smallholders in India and Ethiopia – to introduce water-saving cultivation techniques such as drip irrigation or hydroponic cultivation, requiring much less water than traditional approaches. Around 600 small holders in India supported under social engagement project have adopted the precision-based drip farming with 60 % more area being cultivated with vegetable crops with the same quantity of water.
In countries with less sophisticated or no public sewage treatment, initiatives to improve wastewater treatment are also extremely important to make sure that the groundwater extracted through wells can be reused. At our operations in Ethiopia and India, for instance, a sustainable closed-circuit cleaning system is used to clean the water with aerobic bacteria. “There is no public sewage system around our site in Ethiopia,” says Ben Depraetere, Managing Director & Country Head Vegetable Seeds Ethiopia. „This is why we have built our own sewage treatment facility and clean all of our wastewater on site. Once the water is cleaned it is used for irrigation by a youth association that grows onions with our reused water through drip irrigation.”
Vegetable Seeds started its water initiatives many years ago. „At Vegetable Seeds, we respect water as an important good. It is one of our most elemental resources,” says Frank Claessens, Vice President Operations and program owner for Sustainability at BASF’s vegetable seeds business. „We cannot live without water, and therefore it will remain one of our priorities of our sustainability program. It is vital to make the relevance of World Water Day visible.”