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Speech at the Special Session of Irrigation During the 5th World Water Forum
  2009-07-14 09:23  

Speech at the Special Session of Irrigation During the 5th World Water Forum

By H. E. CHEN Lei
Minister of Water Resources, P. R. China
March 21, 2009

Food security is a global issue. The efforts of governments of all countries and international communities are needed to eliminate poverty and hunger to ensure sufficient food for everyone on earth. Under the pressures of population growth, arable land decrease, water shortage and frequent natural disasters, food security will become a severe problem worldwide in the 21st century.

On the eve of the Fifth World Water Forum, the special session jointly organized by Turkey, Mexico and China for exchanges and discussion of food security problems will have far-reaching and important implications. Hereby, on behalf of the Ministry of Water Resources of PRC, I would like to give my heartfelt congratulations to the special session and extend my warmest welcome to all participants and guests presented.

China is the country with the largest population in the world and a major grain producer and consumer. Food security in China is not only closely related to stability and development of China but also to world food security. The Chinese Government has always attached great importance to agriculture, especially food security. With the basic principle of keeping a foothold at home, basic self-sufficiency and appropriate leverage of import and export for a balance, China has transferred from shortage of food supply for a long time to a balanced food supply or even surplus during good years. With 6 percent of world's freshwater resources and 9 percent of the total cultivated land, China has succeeded in feeding a population that makes up 21 percent of the world's total. Since 2003, China has achieved grain production growth for a successive 5 years. The total grain output reached to a new record of 528.5 million tons in 2008, which is a great contribution to world food security.

Irrigation is the lifeline of agriculture and an important back-up of food security. The Chinese Government has, as always, paid great attention to the construction of agricultural infrastructure, focusing on farmland water conservancy, vigorously developing agricultural irrigation and continuously improving the basic conditions for agricultural production. During the past 60 years since the founding of People's Republic of China, the effective irrigated land has extended from 16 million hectare to 57.8 million hectare, accounting for about 20% of the world’s total and ranking the first in the world. China is a country based on largely on irrigated agriculture, as irrigated area represents 47% of China's total farmland, where produces 75% of the total grain and 90% of cotton and vegetable products in China. It is no doubt that water infrastructures have played crucial role in ensuring food security in China.

However, we should be aware of the fact that China's grain production is confronted with long-term challenges of population growth, farmland decrease and water shortage as well as severity of global climate change. The situation of food security is not at all optimistic. Thus, the Chinese Government has formulated a series of favorable policies for agriculture development in recent years, and worked out a plan for a newly-increase of 50 million tons of grain.

As a result, great input shall be put into water infrastructure construction. It is planned to complete counterpart facilities of irrigation system and irrigation districts rehabilitation with water-saving equipment by 2020; the total effective irrigated arable land could reach to 63.33 million hectare by adding and restoring effective irrigated area of 5.54 million hectare, the irrigation water co-efficiency be improved to 0.55 from existing 0.46, and over 260 large-scale irrigation and drainage pumping stations completed rehabilitation and modernization in 3-5 years, and 6,240 large and medium-sized and key small hazard reservoirs reinforced by 2010.

The other measures include reclamation of medium- and low-yield farmland, development of water-saving irrigation and dry farming, and restoration, construction, continuous construction or rehabilitation of structures of small water source, irrigation canal and mechanical/electrical pumping stations in major grain producing areas, as well as construction of medium, small and mini-sized water storage and diversion works and rainwater collection/utilization facilities in line with local conditions. .

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China is a developing country with a large population, and has always taken stable grain production as a focal point for improving people's living standard, maintaining social stability and promoting economic development. The Chinese Government is more than happy to join hands with other nations to strengthen international cooperation and exchanges in the area of agricultural irrigation, for rational development and effective utilization of water resources, in order to address the challenges brought by global climate change to agricultural production and ensure food security of the world.

Finally, I wish the special session a complete success!