VN's rice bowl under serious threat, says ADB advisor
08:48 | 21/02/2012

VGP - The delta that produces 85% of Việt Nam's rice exports is under threatened by reduced flows of the Mekong River, a leading water expert for the Asian Development Bank (ADB) warned Monday.

'The rice bowl of South-East Asia is severely under threat because of irrigation practices and inadequate river flows in the delta,' said Arjun Thapan, a senior ADB advisor on infrastructure and water.

Việt Nam is the world's second-largest rice exporter. The industry is threatened by salinization of the delta due to excessive upstream use of the Mekong River, Thapan said.

'The Mekong no longer flushes the delta for most of the year, allowing saline intrusions from the sea to progress 100 kilometers inland,' Thapan told a seminar on water, food and energy developments in the Great Mekong Subregion - which includes southern China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Việt Nam.

The region has seen rapid growth in the past two decades but faces serious challenges from rising demand on its water resources, especially on Mekong that binds the six nations together.

There are scores of hydroelectric dams planned on the river, but so far none have been approved for fear of disruptions to fisheries and livelihoods.

'If all hydropower projects get constructed as planned, fish production is likely to drop 43% across the sub-region,' Thapan said.

The bank's experts urged the Mekong basin countries to cooperate on a common development plan to allocate water resources for food production and energy generation in a sustainable manner.

'The management of the food-water-enegry nexus will be the most critical challenge of this decade,' ADB vice president Stephen Geoff said.

 (Source: Monster and Critics.com)

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