Water Efficiency in Rice and Cotton

The public-private-partnership project aims at enhancing smallholder farmers’ income and water productivity in cotton and rice production through improved technologies (PUSH), increased demand of sustainable products by the private sector (PULL) and water stewardship plans (POLICY).
SDC supports a consortium with 20 partners coordinated by HELVETAS in the implementation of the PUSH-PULL-POLICY approach in India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Madagascar.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural water resources
Water resources conservation
Water sector policy
01.11.2018 - 31.12.2022
CHF  5’330’000
Background There is global consensus among policy and development stakeholders that addressing water issues is a key for achieving sustainable development. Agriculture accounts globally for 70% freshwater use. Cotton and rice together account for more than 30% of global irrigation water consumption and are mainly produced in countries with water scarcity. Both crops are relevant to food security as cash crop or for consumption. More and more also the private sector identifies the water footprint of their products and its corresponding supply chain as a relevant risk factor.
Objectives To enhance food security, farmers‘ income and water productivity for 65‘000 farmer families in Pakistan, India, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Madagascar.
Target groups

65’000 smallholder farmers - women and men

International commodity and water standards and value chain actors

Local and national Governments

Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1: PUSH
65’000 cotton or rice producing families adopt improved technologies that entail efficient water management practices and increased food production.

Outcome 2: PULL
Adoption of water efficiency strategies for commodities is fostered by collective actions from the involved stakeholders and leveraged with increased volume purchases of crops produced under improved conditions.

Outcome 3: POLICY
Water use improvements in project regions are governed by multi-stakeholder water stewardship plans and reflected in either national or local policy frameworks.

Outcome 4: International Outreach
PUSH PULL-POLICY approach to foster stewardship of natural resources is shared within international institutions, sector specific platforms and events.


Expected results:  

  • 65‘000 farmers (min. 15% women) participate in capacity building on PUSH-PULL-POLICY and adoption rate of 70%
  • + CHF 50 / ha income for 45’000 farmers
  • Water use efficiency (m3/kg) increased by min. 30% compared to conventional technologies
  • The relevant government institutions are sensitized on water stewardship and support the stewardship processes
  • At least one policy constraining for water productivity is addressed or at least one policy supporting water productivity is put into action

    Results from previous phases:  

    45’583 farmers involved in capacity building, including 9% women

    Income increase per ha CHF 78 – 297 (rice) and CHF 47 – 753 (cotton).

    Total additional income of 23’583 farmers CHF 4’300’000 (2017)

    5 – 86% reduced water use per kg produced crop, depending on region and technology (e.g. 23% in the organic rice sub-project in India and 40% in the cotton sub-project in Tajikistan)

    Mapping of water resources at local level

    Better cotton initiative included water stewardship as one principle of their standard

    Involvement of 8 new private sector partners, Norvegian Agency for Development Cooperation, World Bank and Islamic Development Bank in Phase 2

    Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
    Credit area Development cooperation
    Project partners Contract partner
    Private sector
    Swiss Non-profit Organisation
    • HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation
    • Swiss Private Sector

    Coordination with other projects and actors CORIGAP (Closing rice yield gaps in Asia), SysCom (Long-term farming system comparisons in the tropics), Promoting Water stewardship 2030 and the National Water Resource Management Programme in Tajikistan
    Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    5’330’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    4’907’231
    Project phases Phase 2 01.11.2018 - 31.12.2022   (Current phase) Phase 1 01.10.2014 - 31.10.2018   (Completed)