On a continent that’s reliant on rainfall for farming success and sustainability, are you strategising on how to do more with less when it comes to water?

The global agriculture sector is seemingly missing the mark when it comes to mitigating risks and adapting to the challenges of farming with less water resources.

This is according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), which says that in Africa particularly, where reliance on rain-fed farming is key to sustenance and economic growth, careful consideration around this precious resource’s utilisation is required.

The challenges of farming with limited rainfall

Less rain is falling in Africa today than it has in the past. And, ongoing climate change due to global warming is said to exacerbate the challenge of farming. According to Standard Bank, Africa’s biggest business bank by assets, much of south-eastern Africa has already experienced the damaging impact of drought.

Farmers in Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe have been amongst the worst affected over the past three years according to Standard Bank. “Reports show that 41,4 million people in the SADC region are food-insecure. And, the lower end of the continent has been hit by the driest spell ever experienced in the past 35 years, making farming challenging,” Standard Bank notes.

Related: Succeeding as a young farmer in today’s challenging agri industry.

Statistics show that over the past three years, the SADC region has dropped 28% in terms of cereal crop production. Livestock farmers have been affected too, with a number of breeders being forced to cull herds due to shortages of water and food in some regions.

Stepping in to help with water shortages

Over the past three years, and particularly in recent months where water shortage challenges reached its peak in terms of media spotlight (Cape Town’s Day Zero Water Crisis), Standard Bank assist in playing a key role for alleviating pressure on its farming clients.

In Cape Town, the bank contributed to the funding of desalination facilities for the city. It has also restructured 38 of its key clients’ loans, to ensure cash flow and sustainability for these businesses in trying times.

In the bank’s latest Report to Society publication, it’s noted that: “We worked with our key clients to restructure their loans and keep their farms solvent. They were able to save 706 permanent and seasonal farm labourer jobs. By working closely with our clients in this transparent and solution-oriented manner, 50 000 hectares of agricultural land has remained productive in South Africa.”

Environmental sustainability key to agribusiness success

Standard Bank recognises the importance of preserving the environment, but also understands the importance of helping our customers build sustainable businesses. By working closely with the 38 South African farmers that bank with us, in need of assistance during drought, we’ve been able to ensure their combined turnover of R180 million.

Lead by example: How Standard Bank is reducing water wastage in SA

Added to the one-on-one engagement Standard Bank has embarked on with its agribusiness clients, to ensure they are receiving the best possible financial solutions during drought, the bank is also standing resolute as a water-saver.

Related: Farm with nature for the sake of the next generation

In Cape Town, Standard Bank has cut water use in two of its large office buildings by 50%. It’s no easy feat to reduce resource use to such an extent, but there are a few tactics that have been leveraged by the bank (which you can try too) to ensure minimal water wastage:

1. Ramp up awareness around water saving

Standard Bank made certain all its employees were exposed to marketing material that encouraged them to save water at work and in their personal capacity at home.

2. Cut down on flushing where you can

Some bathroom facilities use a lot of water when flushing, due to older technology designs. However, even when flushing mechanisms are modern, water can be excessively wasted by flushing. Encourage staff to throw hand towels into bins instead of flushing.

3. Go waterless where it’s possible to do so

You can reduce water use by installing waterless hand sanitisers, like Standard Bank has done across its building network.

4. Tank up on water supplies as much as possible

Standard Bank has invested in water storage facilities, which is advisable for any business that’s reliant on water. You can store water for crops, animals or yourself and if you require financial assistance in this regard, Standard Bank can help you with a business loan.

5. Invest in water-saving technologies for the business

To ensure long-term sustainability, Standard Bank is investing in water saving technologies for its buildings. There are numerous water-saving tools for agribusiness, which the bank can help you acquire for your farm.

Mitigating the challenges of water sustainability in agri

Standard Bank can assist you with cost-effective financial solutions that can help you invest in water-saving technology. Alternatively, we can provide you with banking solutions that offer overdraft facilities and business loans that can help you maintain cash flow to meet payment agreements with suppliers.

Talk to one of our agri sector experts about the wide range of solutions that we can package together for your farming business. We can also provide you with trends and insights on the sector and help you strategise around the challenges that are holding you back from business success. – Standard Bank

For more information contact 011 721 9089, or send an email to SBSA.agricultural@standardbank.co.za. You can also visit the website at www.standardbank.co.za/agribusiness.