The report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released on 18 August is entitled Revitalizing Asia’s Irrigation: To sustainably meet tomorrow’s food needs.
It said while 34 percent of cultivated land in Asia was irrigated, in Central Asia the figure was much higher:
From 1961 to 2003 the area of irrigated land in
Central Asia is critical to global agriculture and has some of the largest irrigation systems in the world, but there has been a marked lack of investment since the break-up of the
The situation has not been helped by the drying up of huge lakes like the
Accessing groundwater has become increasingly difficult and costly, and groundwater pollution due to industrial effluent and the lack of sewage systems is also a concern. “Water scarcity will increasingly contribute to food price volatility,” the report said.
The growing population of
Experts estimate that the demand for food and animal feed will double over the next 50 years, and growing that extra food will require better management of irrigated land, the report said.
Prompted by last year’s food price rises, 50-year-old Asanbek Aka decided to plant some chickpeas on his small plot in a village near
“During July-August a lot of people try to get as much water as they can from the irrigation and even the piped water system for their crops and gardens. The result is that people in outlying villages like mine simply do not get enough water. Whatever plants we have simply die out because there is no water,” he said.
Water department officials told Asanbek Aka they lacked funds to improve existing irrigation systems.