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Keynote Speech at the Ministerial Roundtable of the 2nd World Irrigation Forum
  2017-01-16 10:27  

Keynote Speech at the Ministerial Roundtable of the 2nd World Irrigation Forum


H.E. Mr. TIAN Xuebin

Vice Minister of Water Resources of the People's Republic of China

(November 6th, 2016)


Honorable President Nairizi,

Distinguished ministers, Chair,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

I am very pleased to be present here at the Ministerial Roundtable of the World Irrigation Forum jointly hosted by the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage and the Thai National Commission on Irrigation and Drainage. First, on behalf of the Ministry of Water Resources of the People's Republic of China, I would like to extend my warm congratulations on the opening of the 2nd World Irrigation Forum in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

China is not only a populous country, but also a huge agricultural country with large irrigation demand. Agricultural production and food security in China are highly dependent on the support and guarantee of irrigation and drainage facilities. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the development of irrigation and drainage, as well as the international cooperation and exchange in this regard, and has been sharing experience and progressing together with the rest of the world. Here, I would like to share with you, my fellow colleagues, on the development of irrigation in China in recent years and the main ideas for the coming years.

Over the past five years, with vigorous action taken in the irrigation industry, the Chinese government has achieved fairly effective results.

First, providing policy support. The Chinese government issued policies on the "Decision on Accelerating the Development of Water Conservancy Reform", "National Agricultural Water Saving Program", "Advancing the Comprehensive Reform of Agricultural Water Prices", and promulgated the “Regulations on Farmland Water Conservancy”. The Ministry of Water Resources has compiled "National Development Plan for Modern Irrigation" and a series of programs.

Second, increasing government investment. The central and local governments at all levels have further increased investment in irrigation and drainage projects. The dedicated fund assigned by the central government alone amounted to more than 160 billion yuan, 2.5 times of that during the 11th “Five-Year Plan Period"(2006-2010).

Third, vigorously developing water-saving irrigation. Taking water resources carrying capacity as constraints, China has launched a number of overall regional programs on large-scale high efficient water-saving irrigation, including the food production increasing plan in Northeast China, the efficiency elevation plan in Northwest China, the exploitation reduction plan in North China, and the pollutant discharge reduction plan in South China. The construction of sprinkling irrigation, drip irrigation and low pressure pipe irrigation projects have been pushed forward.

Fourth, promoting reform and innovation. Pilot programs have been carried out in 100 counties to explore the property rights management system and innovative management and protection mechanisms of irrigation facilities. Agricultural water pricing reform pilots have been set up while the reward and punishment mechanism of water saving is established. Farmers’ cooperation organizations on agricultural water use have amounted to more than 80,000, and the area of irrigated farmland under management reached about 2.5 million hectares.

By making changes in policy decisions, investment, technology development, and management approaches, over the past 5 years, we have newly developed over 5 million hectares of effectively irrigated farmland, and 800,000 hectare of highly water-saving farmland, and the coefficient of irrigated farmland has been increased from 0.50 to 0.536. By 2015, China's irrigation farmland has reached 66 million hectares, accounting for 49% of arable land, and water-saving irrigation projects covered a total of 31.34 million hectares. Through the 15 years since the new century, with an increase of 10.87 million hectares of irrigated area, and a constantly growing probability of irrigation, we have maintained a zero growth in the agricultural irrigation water use. The development of farmland irrigation and drainage has secured the agricultural production growth for 12 consecutive years, guaranteed basic food supply for 1.3 billion people, and greatly promoted the sustainable utilization of water resources.

The practice of developing irrigation in China tells us that it is essential to always enhance farmland irrigation and drainage project facilities construction and strengthen agricultural water management if we want to ensure food security, promote rural transformation and agricultural modernization, and ensure sustainable water use. In the next five years, the Chinese government will promote the construction of irrigation and water conservancy projects on the basis of innovation, coordination, green growth, openness and sharing. It is planned to newly develop 2 million hectares of irrigated area, and 6.67 million hectares of efficient water-saving irrigated area, while increasing the coefficient of irrigated farmland to above 0.55. To achieve the objectives above, great emphasis will be put into the following aspects.

First, to thoroughly implement the Regulations on Farmland Water Resources. The regulations stipulate the responsibilities of the central and local governments at all levels as well as the responsibilities of the beneficiaries, regulates the management of farmland water conservancy construction, and has to be carried out in a top-down manner covering all administrative levels, to promote sustainable and healthy development of irrigation in China.

Second, to speed up the improvement of irrigation and drainage engineering system. We will make overall plans and systematically coordinate the construction and transformation of irrigation and drainage projects, and forward the small-scale project construction in hilly areas and poverty-stricken areas. We will newly develop a group of large and medium-scale irrigation zones in regions where the water and soil resources conditions allow, and start the modernized renovation of irrigation zones.

Third, continue to vigorously develop highly efficient water-saving irrigation. Focus will be cast on areas short in water resources, areas with fragile ecology, and major areas of grain production, to promote the development of regional large-scale and efficient water-saving irrigation. We will newly develop 1.33 million hectares of efficient water-saving irrigation area every year.

Fourth, to comprehensively strengthen irrigation water management. We will accelerate the water rights distribution, and strengthen dual control on the agricultural water use quantity and intensity. We will promote scientific irrigation management through research experiments and results transformation. Irrigation water metering facilities will be improved, and the information technology will be more widely used to promote smart and automated irrigation.

Fifth, to further deepen reform in this field. We will continue the reform in the property right system and renovate management and protection approach of irrigation projects. We will standardize and innovate the development of farmers' water use cooperative organizations, and cultivate professional social service personnel in irrigation project operation and maintenance. We will also thoroughly promote the comprehensive reform in agricultural water pricing, establish policy-pressured mechanisms on agricultural irrigation water use and incentive mechanisms on water conservancy.

Over the past few decades, the development of China's irrigation and drainage industry has had concerns and support of many countries and international organizations including ICID, and we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to that! We are willing to further strengthen the exchange of technology and experience with governments and ICID, and establish effective cooperation mechanisms to jointly promote the world's irrigation development, and make greater contributions to guaranteeing food security and sustainable development worldwide. Last but not least, I would like to extend our thanks to the government of Thailand for its effort in organizing this event, and your warm hospitality for the delegation of the Ministry of Water Resources of China.

Thank you!