20 August 2009

Asian irrigation must be revitalised - mobile phones could help

A recent article indicates that Asia's run-down irrigation systems need to be updated if the continent is to meet the challenge of feeding an extra 1.5 billion people by 2050.

Researchers from IWMI and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) modelled the water requirements of three different ways of feeding the booming population: importing food, expanding and improving rain-fed agriculture, and enhancing irrigated agriculture.

Investment is needed to encourage farmers to use new technologies, says Chartres (DG of IWMI). "The farmers themselves are using old-style systems, there's very little adoption of high-tech or efficient irrigation systems, such as drip irrigation or sprinklers ... there's a lack of capacity for the adoption of new technologies across the whole farming system."

Other new technologies could help. "There's a tremendous need for knowledge. But most farmers have a mobile phone in India and China and more and more have access to the Internet, so there's much more opportunity to get information out there."

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