About 20-30 per cent of agricultural land in Viet Nam is expected to be flooded by the year 2100 due to rising sea levels, leading to a vast reduction in the country’s food production capacity.
In coming decades, climate change was forecast to cause bad weather conditions such as flooding, drought and salt water intrusion that would have a severe impact on the water resources and agriculture, threatening food security particularly for poor communities, said Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Minh Quang.
In order to ensure food security for Viet Nam’s population, which was expected to increase to nearly 100 million by 2020, an estimated of 3.8 million hectares of land should be kept for rice cultivation, where enough water was certain to be available, he said.
Quang said the agriculture accounted for up to between 70-80 per cent of water demand among economic sectors.
In Viet Nam, the agricultural production accounted for 20.6 per cent of GDP in 2010 and the figure is expected to reach 18 per cent by 2015.
The relationship between water resources and food security is also the main theme of World Water Day 2012, which is held annually on March 22.
“Agriculture is by far the main consumer of fresh water. Unless we increase our capacity to use water wisely in agriculture, we will fail to end hunger and we will open the door to a range of other ills, including drought, famine and political instability,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in his message for this year’s World Water Day.
“In many parts of the world, water scarcity is increasing and rates of growth in agricultural production have been slowing. At the same time, climate change is exacerbating risk and unpredictability for farmers, especially for poor farmers in low-income countries who are the most vulnerable and the least able to adapt,” he said.
Nearly 1 billion people are now hungry and some 800 million still lack a safe supply of fresh water.
There are 7 billion people to feed on the planet today and another 2 billion are expected to join by 2050.
Statistics say that each of us drinks between 2 to 4 litres of water every day, but most of the water we ‘drink’ is embedded in the food we eat: producing one kilo of beef, for example, consumes 15,000 litres of water while one kilo of wheat ‘drinks up’ 1,500 litres.
Viet Nam was ranked in the middle of countries facing water resource problems, facing challenges due to its dependence on international water resources, unequal allocation of water resources among regions and seasons, population growth and climate change, said Quang.
Viet Nam needed comprehensive measures to protect its water resources, including effective policies for planning and allocation that would improve the capacity of management agencies and apply advanced scientific and technological methods, Quang said.
It was also essential to raise public awareness of the importance of saving water and protecting water resources for food security, he added.
A national meeting would be held today in Vi Thanh City in Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta’s Hau Giang Province to mark World Water Day with the participation of around 4,000 people.
A workshop on water and food security was also held yesterday in the city by the ministry. The workshop provided a venue for both domestic and international experts to discuss issues relating to protecting water resources and treating water pollution.
Other activities include a four-day photo exhibition on water resources and a boat race.
World Water Day, initiated by the UN, attempts to focus attention on the importance of fresh water and the sustainable management of fresh water resources.
The first World Water Day was held in 1993.