The greatest social challenge of drought: distributing resources equitably and sustainably

Jun 14, 2023

More than 120 people gathered at the conference “Water and Agriculture: research and development for sustainable agriculture in the face of water scarcity” organized jointly by Agrotecnio and the Higher Technical School of Engineering, Forestry and Veterinary of Lleida (ETSEAFIV, by its Catalan & Spanish acronym) on the occasion of the investiture as Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Lleida of Professor Elías Fereres (University of Cordoba, Institute of Sustainable Agriculture-CSIC).

After a greeting from the directors of Agrotecnio and ETSEAFIV, José Antonio Bonet and Jordi Graell, the day began with a reminder of Fereres’ career and the so-called “Fereres network” of research personnel at the national level: a network of research groups that have worked in water agronomy, in rainfed and irrigated, both outdoors and greenhouses, “leaving the laboratory to bring the results of research to the plots of farmers” as noted by Henar Prieto of the Center for Scientific and Technological Research of Extremadura (CICYTEX).

During the first session, focused on the history of research on water and agriculture, four speakers discussed topics such as efficient irrigation, adaptation to climate change, remote sensing in water management or water use in rainfed systems.

The second session, focused on the impact of research on society, dealt with the public management of water use, water quality and pollution, the impact on the environment and the vision of irrigation communities thanks to speakers from the University of Cordoba, the Ebro Hydrographic Confederation, the General Community of Alto Aragon Irrigation, the Center for Technological and Agrifood Research of Aragon and WWF Spain.

Elías Fereres referred to the challenges posed by water management in periods of scarcity, emphasizing the importance of managing and legislating during times of prosperity. In response to a question, Fereres highlighted the importance of distributing resources in an equitable and sustainable manner as the greatest social challenge posed by drought periods.

Professor Fereres has had a profound impact on the scientific and technological development of agricultural sciences and their transfer to society, particularly in the field of water management in agriculture and in the environment of Lleida. His research works address plant adaptation to drought, water and soil conservation, irrigation water optimization, irrigation scheduling models or sustainable management of natural resources. He was president of CSIC, Secretary of State for Universities and Research of the Ministry of Education and Science, director of the Institute of Sustainable Agriculture of CSIC and consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), among others.

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