Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - More food sought from less water

More food sought from less water

More food sought from less water

Aglobal research program to determine how to properly manage the resources of

key river basins brought a number of representatives from Mekong River countries

and international research institutions to Phnom Penh March 26-27.

The

CGIAR Challenge Program on water and food was initiated in November last year to

increase food production in agriculture without increasing water use beyond

levels used in 2000.

The Mekong River Basin was one of seven picked for

the study because of the dual pressures of population growth and economic

development. Other basins to be researched include the Nile, China's Yellow

River and Brazil's Sao Francisco.

In his opening speech at the 'Kick-off

Workshop in the Mekong', Joern Kristensen, chief executive officer of the Mekong

River Commission (MRC), said the outcome of the two-day talks was critical to

the success of the CGIAR program and to ongoing development of the Mekong

Basin.

"It is estimated that food demand in the Mekong River Basin will

increase by between 25 percent and 50 percent in the next 25 years, with a

corresponding increase in water demand," said Kristensen, whose agency will

coordinate research efforts.

An independent review panel will select

projects for funding later this year. Its priorities are to establish the value

of resources, the trends in their use, improve food security, and assess social

as well as environmental consequences of different food production systems. The

total budget for the first cycle of research for this 'Blue Revolution' was set

at $40 million.

"We need to be able to compare where you get the best

value for your drop of water," said Ian Campbell, the MRC's senior environmental

specialist.

In contrast to many other countries, Cambodia uses a

traditional system of agriculture. Mark Rosegrant, senior research fellow at the

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), said Vietnam no longer

used the deep water rice farming methods still prevalent in Cambodia. However

most of the rice grown for export by Vietnam, which is among the world's leading

rice exporters, comes from just across the border.

Irrigation methods in

Cambodia vary from heavy to barely any, said the International Rice Research

Institute's T P Tuong, but he cautioned against thinking about food in terms of

only production. He gave as a good example Northern Thailand, where high quality

rice is grown with minimum output by use of rain-fed technology.

"I

suppose the whole thing revolves around economic return," said Tuong. "The need

for intensification here [in Cambodia] is much less."

IFPRI's Rosegrant

said one challenge was that the Mekong basin spanned several countries, which

brought in important trans-boundary issues. On the positive side, he said,

structures such as the MRC were in place that could help to manage

disputes.

"It's not too late to do things right," he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the