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About the INWEPF

Purpose and Background

The world's growing population and changing consumption patterns will continue to drive demand for food. Agriculture is the biggest user of freshwater, accounting for a global average of 70% of all water withdrawals.

It is a common recognition that water is essential for broad-based agricultural and rural development in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals to improve food security and alleviate poverty.

Rice is the most important crop for the countries in the Asian monsoon region, providing staple food for the people. As the population is rapidly increasing yet available freshwater resources are very limited, it is crucially important to promote sustainable water use in paddy fields with better governance including participatory irrigation management.

Agricultural water is not only vital for food production, but also provides a broad spectrum of services related to society, culture and the environment. These multiple roles and values of agricultural water must be recognized, evaluated and taken into account for the development and management of water resources.

Moreover, paddy fields are wetlands, in a sense. Thus, paddy fields potentially have the environmental benefits as natural wetlands do, including flood control, ground water recharge, water purification and biodiversity conservation.

On the occasion of the 3rd World Water Forum, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) co-organized the Ministerial Meeting on Water for Food and Agriculture on March 21, 2003. The Ministerial Recommendation highlighted three challenges, "Food Security and Poverty Alleviation", "Sustainable Water Use" and "Partnership".

The INWEPF is established to provide a forum to realize the three challenges by promoting dialogue, exchanging knowledge and experiences, creating synergy among existing forums and strengthening capacity building in agricultural water management in paddy fields with due consideration for environmental aspects.