Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Water is the elixir of life and though it is abundantly available in this planet, accessibility is becoming increasingly difficult because of mindless over exploitation of this precious natural resource. If a country like India is facing acute water scarcity, it is due to short sight on the part of the planners who failed to put in place a realistic and practical water policy to prevent over exploitation. There are thousands of house holds in rural as well as urban India having limited accessibility to safe drinking water while rain water is allowed to flow into the sea without harnessing. On the other hand food processing industry is one of the most water intensive sectors with the safety of end products closely linked to optimum use of water. While the minimum water needs of this sector must be ensured, unnecessary wastage due to inadequate management oversight must be prevented at all cost. Rain water harvesting and waste water recycling must be an integral part of any planned industry as water crisis is likely to assume monstrous proportion in the coming years. Recent acclamation of an international food company for its yeomen contribution to water conservation must set a lesson for other food industry players to emulate the same for the good of "Mother Earth"

"Nestle has been named the winner of the Stockholm Industry Water Award for its leadership and performance to improve water management in its internal operations and throughout its supply chain. The Award Committee also recognised Nestle's work to improve the water management of its suppliers, which includes over 25 million people who are involved in its entire value chain. Nestle employs 1,000 agronomists and water experts, who work directly with farmers to help them reduce their water requirements, increase crop yields, and minimise pollution. In 2009-2010, Nestle provided expert training and technical support for 300,000 farmers and the company continues to collaborate with other food industry leaders to establish best practice and guidelines for sustainable water use at a farm level. Nestle also has a leading role in the 2030 Water Resources Group. Award Committee Member and Director of Water Projects at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Joppe Cramwinckel, said: "Through its unwavering commitment, Nestle has established itself as a leader in smart water management and is deserving of this prestigious award. It is providing an example for other food producers and distributors to follow. With agriculture accounting for nearly 70% of global water use, and food demand expected to double by 2050, companies have an increasing responsibility to improve food chain resource efficiency." The honourary award will be presented to the chairman of Nestle SA, P. Brabeck-Letmathe, at a ceremony on August 24 during the 2011 World Water Week in Stockholm. When receiving the news, he said: "I am most grateful for this recognition. We have identified water as the biggest challenge for future food security, and beyond that, for economic growth. This is probably the most prestigious award in this area for a company - and it will be a strong encouragement for us to continue with our efforts." Nestle is the largest food and nutrition company in the world, employing around 280 000 people in over 100 countries. Over the past decade, Nestle has reduced the total water withdrawals by over 30 percent, more than doubled the water efficiency of their internal operations and made significant reductions in the quantity of wastewater discharged into the environment".

It is surprising that this company which has its operations in India does not propagate its good deeds done in India, if any and an informed public is much more valuable than investment in saturated advertisements about their consumer products, blared across millions of house holds in the country through electronic media. With their portfolio including some of the most water demanding products like dairy, tea, coffee etc Indian public would like to know about their efforts in India in the area of water conservation. It is not easy to forget the bad experience of Coca Cola company in Kerala which was accused of destroying the water resources in the area of its beverage plant operations by over drawing ground water. It must be remembered that this incidence had tarred the very image of trans national companies which may take many more years to restore.


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