[ASC-media] PARTNERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT: The Keys to Sustainable Water Use

Cathy Reade creade at squirrel.com.au
Tue Aug 15 12:28:19 CEST 2006

16 August 2006


Australian agricultural expertise is helping to reduce water consumption in
agriculture, through a suite of innovative and effective projects carried
out by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research

ACIAR’s collaborative agricultural R&D in developing countries in the
Asia-Pacific region, which are yielding real benefits to both Australia and
partner countries, are being highlighted at Water for Irrigated Agriculture
and the Environment: Finding a Flow For All, the Crawford Fund’s annual
development conference in Parliament House, Canberra on 16 August. The event
will be opened at 9am by The Hon Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign
Affairs, followed by the keynote address by Dr Frank Rijsberman, Director
General of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the world's
pre-eminent research institution on management of water for food and
agriculture. A press conference will be held at 12pm in the Theatrette. The
Hon Malcolm Turnbull will make an address at 3.35pm.

“Australia’s efforts in water management are being recognised
internationally and many developing countries in the Asia Pacific region are
drawing on our expertise in agricultural science, technology and management
of water,” said Mr Peter Core, Director of ACIAR.

ACIAR’s agricultural R&D work sees improving the efficiency of agricultural
production and water use as fundamental to improving the economic growth,
environmental sustainability, food security and reducing poverty.

“The message is positive and clear,” said Mr Core.  “ACIAR’s work in
developing countries has shown that reduced water use by agriculture is
possible while maintaining crop yields and farmer incomes – with potential
flow on benefits for the environment and for national economies”.

Mr Core highlighted just a few of ACIAR’s water related success stories.

In Vietnam where the agricultural economy is heavily reliant on irrigation,
ACIAR-supported projects have investigated more efficient delivery of water
to farmers with increased crop yields and reduced energy inputs.  The
project in the Lan Khe irrigation system, which has increased rice yields by
11%, is expected to deliver $13.2 million over a 30 year period and a
cost:benefit ratio of research investment of 10:1.

Mr Core explained that nowhere is water under greater demand than in China –
one of the largest users of available water and where irrigated rice
production is vital.

“Introduction of new irrigation methods to rice, based on alternate
wetting/drying of soils instead of continuous flooding, have been trialled
in 1.5 million hectares in China.  The results have shown less water is
being used while maintaining high yields. The techniques are now being
trialled in Sir Lanka and the Philippines,” he said.

Another project studying water management in China’s Zhanghe Irrigation
Scheme has introduced water-saving technologies that can increase food
production using less water.

Changes to water delivery procedures have also helped to increase crop
yields and will help to deal with problems of increasing water shortage and
competition that are prevalent in vast areas of China – especially north of
the Yangtze River.

“In Australia and developing countries alike, competition for water for
different uses like food, industry, cities and nature conspire to create the
real challenge of finding a flow for all” noted the ACIAR Director.

A range of other ACIAR projects tackle the challenge by looking at
government polices and water governance.  A collaborative project on water
allocation and policy with IWMI in the Krishna basin in India – home to 67
million people – has drawn on Australian lessons from the management of the
Murray-Darling basin.  And another with ABARE focuses on the Yellow River
basin in China – home to two thirds of China’s cultivated land - where
building the necessary policy framework for reallocating water could boost
agricultural production by an estimated $A165 million (one billion Yuan) a

“We’ve had some great success in tackling soil and water problems of
irrigated crops through the use of raised bed technology.  The technology
has successfully been trialled in India, Pakistan and Indonesia and is
achieving increase yields and lower water use. As is the case for much of
ACIAR’s work, this research shows positive results for Australia and in the
future we may see raised bed crop systems as a feature on our landscape too”

ACIAR collaborates with research providers in Australia and developing
countries in areas where Australia has special research competencies.  The
Centre works with NGOs, IMWI and partner country researchers to deliver
modern technology and apply better management practices to water to help
ensure a sustainable future for smallholder farmers and traditional

Further information, photos, additional press releases, the program,
abstracts and bios available at www.crawfordfund.org or contact Cathy Reade,
0413 575 934 creade at squirrel.com.au for interviews

The ATSE Crawford Fund wishes to thanks the sponsors for this event,
Alliance of the CGIAR Centers; AusAID - the Australian Agency for
International Development; Australian Centre for International Agricultural
Research; Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Forestry; Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage;
CRC for Irrigation Futures; CSIRO Land and Water; CSIRO Livestock
Industries; Grains Research and Development Corporation; International Water
Management Institute; Land & Water Australia; Murray-Darling Basin
Commission; National Water Commission

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