China / Society

Agriculture water conservation called priority

By WANG QIAN ( Updated: 2014-09-29 15:11

China's water watchdog promised on Sept 29 to make a priority of water conservation in agriculture — the country's largest water-consuming industry.

Li Guoying, vice-minister of water resources, said at a news conference in Beijing that with the nation's growing population and increasing demand to its biosystem, water scarcity has become a barrier to the country's rapid economic development.

"Solving the water crisis and saving water is a priority for China," Li said. Because agriculture is the main water user, saving water in agriculture is imperative, he added.

Li said agricultural water use has reached more than 340 billion cubic meters per year, about 55 percent of the country's annual water consumption, which means saving water in agriculture has a huge potential to alleviate the country's water shortage.

The Ministry of Water Resources said that by the end of 2013, the amount of farmland under effective irrigation hit 63.5 million hectares across China, including 43 percent of the area using water-saving facilities, about 27 million hectares.

China plans to increase the area of farmland under effective irrigation from the current 63.5 million hectares to 66.7 billion hectares by 2020, and 60 percent of the area will be equipped with water-saving equipment by then, according to a national agricultural water conservancy plan (2012-2020) released by the State Council in late 2012.

When water consumption decreases in agriculture, crop production increases, Li said.

However, Wang Aiguo, director of the ministry's rural water resources department, said there is still a gap between the irrigation technology and management level in China and advanced countries such as US and Israel.

"We will further encourage the research and development in the innovation of water-saving irrigation technology and management, helping China's giant companies in irrigation area," Wang said.

Li agreed, saying that besides boosting the country's irrigation technology, letting private investors into the market will also be supported.

Hot Topics