Asia urgently needs to improve water efficiency, report says.

AuthorBlock, Ben

Asian countries urgently need to boost farmland productivity and improve irrigation efficiency or the continent may not have enough water to support its growing populations, a recent study found.

Dwindling groundwater supplies are already threatening drinking water and crop production across Asia. Meanwhile, undeveloped arable land is in short supply. As a result, Asian countries will have to import more food or improve irrigation methods, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and International Water Management Institute (IWMI) concluded in an August report.

"Relying on trade to meet a large part of this demand will impose a huge and politically untenable burden on the economies of many developing countries," said Colin Chartres, director general of IWMI. "The best bet for Asia lies in revitalizing its vast irrigation systems, which account for 70 percent of the world's total irrigated land."

About 5 billion people are projected to live in Asia by 2050. With the demand for meat products on the rise, experts estimate that the region must double its supplies of food and animal feed crops during the next 50 years to feed an additional 1.5 billion people.

Meeting the increased demand for food in 2050 would require South Asia to irrigate 30 percent more...

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