Can China Feed Itself? An Analysis of China's Food Prospects with Special Reference to Water Resources

Heilig GK, Fischer G, & van Velthuizen HT (2000). Can China Feed Itself? An Analysis of China's Food Prospects with Special Reference to Water Resources. IIASA Research Report (Reprint). IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: RR-01-006. Reprinted from The International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, 7:153-172 [2000].

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Abstract

Water is certainly an important factor in China's food security. Some authors have argued that up to 70% of the country's grain production depends on irrigation. Since the water resources for agriculture in northern China are getting increasingly exhausted and diverted to urban and industrial consumption, they have published grim predictions of food shortages. The following analysis uses a detailed agro-climatic model to estimate China's maximum grain production potential under rain-fed and irrigated conditions. It shows that far less than 70% of China's grain production critically depends on irrigation. Large areas in the south and some areas in the north-east can produce substantial amounts of grain using only natural precipitation. According to our model, some 492 million tons of grain can be produced at current technology without additional irrigation. However, depending on diet, this may still not be enough for China's grain demand in 2025, which was estimated at up to 650 million tons. Only with additional irrigation would China be able to produce these amounts of grain. According to our model, the country has a grain production potential of some 672 million tons, if irrigation is available in those areas, that do not have enough precipitation for rain-fed cultivation. Water conservation in irrigation and the development of water resources for agriculture is therefore for China's food security.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Research Report (Reprint))
Research Programs: Modeling Land-Use and Land-Cover Changes (LUC)
Bibliographic Reference: Reprinted from The International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology; 7:153-172 [2000]
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:12
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2016 07:11
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/6244

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