Asia Urged to Improve Irrigation Systems for Increased Food Production

An irrigation system ensures that there is plenty of water for crops to take up. Asia needs to rehabilitate its irrigation systems to address the region's increasing demand for food in the face of a looming water crisis. Photo by: Jose Raymund Panaligan / IRRI

Asia must rehabilitate its irrigation systems to address its rising demand for food due to increasing population, according to new studies released at the Asian Development Bank’s ongoing water conference.

“Asia’s population will reach 5 billion by 2050 and feeding 1.5 billion additional people will require irrigation systems that generate more value per drop of water,” says the study titled “Growing More Food with Less Water: How Can Revitalizing Asia’s Irrigation Help?” 

The study urges the region to employ new water technologies, improve water storage and implement necessary reforms to strengthen the management of irrigation schemes. Strategies should be broad but inclusive of the distinct characteristics of Asia’s different parts, the study adds. In Central Asia, the main burden is its Soviet-era infrastructure, while South Asia is plagued with underperforming surface schemes, and Southeast Asia is mainly challenged by the rapid expansion of hydropower initiatives, it notes.

Another study presented during the ADB conference stressed that there is “no size fits all” solution for the region’s water problem. Authors of the study said it is important to improve management of the region’s water sector and called for better cooperation among all stakeholders.

A third report highlighted the need for new technologies and innovation measures in increasing food production given the challenges of climate change and Asia’s diminishing water supplies.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.