Water shortages could cause crisis in Asia

Poor management of limited water resources could lead to chronic food shortages and social upheaval in Asia.

This was the key message of scientists reporting to the UN this week.

Extensive research conducted on behalf of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) concluded that countries in south and east Asia need to spend billions of dollars to modernise their agricultural sectors of face severe shortages in coming decades.

The study also suggested that these countries would need to import a quarter of the rice, wheat and maize needed to feed their populations by 2050, with cereal prices expected to steadily rise.

"Asia's food and feed demand is expected to double by 2050," said Colin Chartres, IWMI director.

"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.

"The best bet for Asia lies in revitalising its vast irrigation systems, which account for 70% of the world's total irrigated land," he said.

"If we don't invest we will see food crises like the one in 2007 repeated over and again. That was an early warning.

"If nothing is done, you are going to get an increase in social unrest, migration and a fertile ground for

Sam Bond


agriculture | drought


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