Empowering farmers: Community-managed irrigation

05 May 2024

Many farmers who are irrigators will be aware of a growing conversation around the management of publicly owned irrigation schemes. With recent legislative changes having opened the door for management by local communities.

As the cost burden continues to rise around the management of irrigation, and as more schemes come online, it's imperative that our industry carefully examines the benefits of community managed irrigation schemes.

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At the core of this discussion lies the recognition irrigation is pivotal to a sustainable agriculture sector, not just economically but also environmentally and socially. As stewards of the land, farmers understand the intricate balance between water usage and sustainable practices.

Empowering local farmers to use their knowledge through community management of irrigation schemes can lead to significant cost advantages.

First and foremost, local communities intimately understand their irrigation needs and challenges. By placing management responsibilities in their hands, decision-making becomes more agile and responsive to evolving circumstances and local conditions.

Furthermore, community management fosters a sense of ownership and accountability among stakeholders. When farmers are directly involved in decision-making processes, they are committed to ensuring the long-term viability of irrigation schemes.

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Bureaucratic models often incur significant overhead costs, which are ultimately borne by scheme users. In contrast, community-led schemes can be streamlined operations, which minimise bureaucracy, and allocate resources more efficiently, thereby reducing financial strain on irrigators and ensuring the long-term viability of schemes.

Additionally, community management promotes democratic principles and engagement. By involving farmers in the decision-making processes, we can empower the farming community to have a direct say in matters that impact their livelihoods.

This enhances transparency and accountability while strengthening social cohesion and trust in governance structures.

During the consultation period associated with community management of irrigation schemes, we encourage irrigators to engage in the process and ensure that feedback that may improve the success of schemes they are part of is considered to deliver future sustainability.

We provide a united voice

As the leading advocacy group in Tasmania and the only one that focuses exclusively on farming and the rural sector, the future of Tasmanian agriculture is our focus.

Join TasFarmers today for a greater future.

Contact our Membership Engagement Officer, Jacqueline Shipton