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SCIO press conference on water management and national water security

China.org.cn | September 25, 2023


Beijing Youth Daily:

We all know that food security is among the country's most fundamental interests. Irrigation areas remain a basic guarantee of food security. What efforts have been made by the MWR to build and upgrade irrigation areas? Thank you.

Li Guoying:

Mr. Chen Mingzhong, director general of the Department of Rural Water and Hydropower, will answer your question. 

Chen Mingzhong:

Thank you for your question. Water conservancy is the lifeblood of agriculture. The climatic characteristics and the basic water situation of our country determine that bumper harvests cannot be guaranteed without irrigation. The MWR will accelerate the construction of modern irrigation areas and the transformation of existing ones, strengthen institutional innovation, and give full play to the role of irrigation areas as the "main force" and "ballast stone" in the production of grain and other important agricultural products. As of now, China has an irrigated area of 1.055 billion mu, accounting for 55% of the country's total arable land and producing 77% of the country's grain and more than 90% of cash crops. We have mainly implemented measures from the following several aspects.

First, enhancing the irrigation and drainage engineering system. We have constructed over 7,300 large and medium-sized irrigation areas, creating a comprehensive engineering network system which can help to store, divert, lift, deliver and drain water. During the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), we will carry out the renovation and modernization of more than 1,200 large and medium-sized irrigation areas across the country. Once completed, it is expected to increase or restore the irrigated area by 17.8 million mu, improve the irrigated area by 117 million mu, and raise grain production capacity by nearly 10 billion kilograms. This year, the central government plans to invest 16.6 billion yuan to renovate 581 large and medium-sized irrigation areas, marking an increase of 7 percentage points over the investment in 2022. As of now, the projects have been generally going smoothly. In collaboration with agricultural and rural departments, we will prioritize transforming large and medium-sized irrigation areas into high-standard farmland. We will address the final significant challenges in the construction of irrigation and drainage for farmland, and establish an irrigation and drainage system that extends from the water source and backbone river channels right to the end of the field.

Second, further expanding the irrigated area. We will collaborate with relevant departments to expedite the formulation of the National Farmland Irrigation Development Plan. With a focus on functional zones for grain production, major agricultural product protection areas, and areas with distinctive agricultural products, we will enhance the analysis of land and water resources and construct several water-saving and ecological irrigation areas in coordination with water source projects and water transmission and distribution projects in the national water network. During the "14th Five-Year Plan" period (2021-2025), we will construct 30 large-scale irrigation areas. It is expected to expand the irrigated area by 15 million mu, improve the existing irrigated area by 9.8 million mu, and increase grain production capacity by approximately 3.5 billion kilograms.

Third, sparing no effort to ensure water supply for irrigation. We conduct precise analysis and dynamic prediction regarding the structure of crop planting, water demand periods, and the volume of water required. To meet the water needs of crops, we bolster flood control and water storage operations in major rivers and key reservoirs, reserving water sources in case of drought. We take a targeted approach to combatting drought. Based on the water source and incoming water situation in irrigation areas, we make every effort to ensure the seasonal irrigation water supply for crops with precise scope, targeting, timing, and measures. This year's spring and summer irrigation provided a total of more than 250 billion cubic meters of water, achieving the goal of "full irrigation" and offering robust water conservancy support for the bumper harvest of wheat, corn, rice and other crops.

Fourth, innovating systems and mechanisms. We will start with the deepening of comprehensive agricultural water price reform. We are initiating the first batch of 21 modern irrigation areas and county-level pilot projects nationwide in accordance with the principles that promote efficient and sustainable use of water resources, encourage the modernization of irrigation areas by attracting social capital, and avoid adding to the burdens on farmers in grain production. We have categorized water pricing, optimized policy support, and encouraged social capital involvement, implementing a dual approach to build a group of modern irrigation areas that are technologically advanced, water-efficient, well-managed, and environmentally friendly. Thank you.

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