Page last updated at 18:41 GMT, Monday, 17 August 2009 19:41 UK

Water reform is 'needed in Asia'

paddy fields
Asian farmers need to modernise their irrigation methods

Asia must reform its water use to feed 1.5 billion extra people by 2050, says a new report.

The authors warn that without big changes to irrigation many nations will have to import food.

The report says that 94% of suitable land in South Asia is already being used for growing food.

According to their computer model the continent could obtain three quarters of the additional food it needs with better irrigation systems.

The report will be presented on Tuesday to the World Water Week conference in Stockholm.

The study was carried out by the International Water Management Institute and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The researchers warn that some developing nations will have to import more than a quarter of the rice, wheat and maize they will need by 2050 and that this prospect will be politically risky.

They outline three options for meeting the food needs of Asia's population.

The first is to import large quantities of cereals from other regions, the second to improve and expand "rain-fed" agriculture and the third is to focus on irrigated farmlands.

Politically risky

The report warns that the first option is too politically risky and the second is impossible as suitable land is already in use in many areas.

FROM BBC WORLD SERVICE

Lead author Aditi Mukherji of the International Water Management Institute said: "Today, the option of expanding irrigated land area in Asia to feed a growing population is becoming increasingly problematic due to land or water constraints."

The scenarios presented in the report do not factor in climate change which is likely to make rainfall more erratic.

The report recommends modernising the region's large scale irrigation systems which rely on surface water but have fallen into disrepair through lack of investment.

Another suggestion is for governments to help individual farmers use cheap pumps to extract ground water for irrigation.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Food needs 'fundamental rethink'
27 Dec 08 |  Science & Environment
UN warns of deepening food crisis
09 Dec 08 |  Europe
Asian bank in food crisis warning
03 May 08 |  Special Reports
Nepal acts to stop food shortages
01 May 08 |  South Asia

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific