Famine fears

Published: Thursday 30 November 1995

-- MAJOR rice and water crises await Asian countries in the next 30 years, the International Rice Research Institute (iARi) reports. It predicts acute shortages of rice unless anti-pollution and conservation attempts are exercised in the area. iARi forewes social problems being triggered off by competition for declining water supplies and tillable land among industries, farmers and urban consumers. The population of Asia - fast approaching three billion - is shrinking the water and agricultural land rmources to the point of food shortages and social unrest. The easy way out, that is, development of new varieties of rice for increasing production will not help, and proper crop management and resource conservation is the only solution. This is because chemicals used as fertilisers and pesticides for high yielding rice cultivation have often contaminated 7 the water sources. Future rice production will depend on devising techniques producing more rice with less water. The shortage of freshwater supplies in Asian countries is largely due to uneven distribution of rainfall and seasonal rains. More than half the rice produced in ia are in the rain-dependent areas. Asian governments need to plan the allocation of water resources properly as problems regarding population and economic develop F ment intensify, says IARI.

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