AIJEP3267.jpg

Agriculture and Irrigation Programme

Agriculture is the single most important economic activity in the Lower Mekong Basin. With more than 20 percent of the population considered to be living below the poverty line, and 15 percent undernourished, the sector provides livelihoods for approximately 60 percent of the Mekong Basin’s inhabitants.

The MRC’s Agriculture and Irrigation Programme (AIP) aims to manage the sustainable development of water resources in agriculture, as the sector is one of the first points of intervention to raise living standards, improve livelihoods and mitigate poverty.

For example, paddy fields act as a cradle producing natural food for fish growth and in return, food for farmers. The Programme aims to improve farmers’ crop production and therefore food security by demonstrating the diverse functions of paddy fields. The Programme also works towards improved irrigation to assure that the sector’s water management is more sustainable in the future.

Developing a more active role in agricultural water management

Due to the inextricable link between agriculture, food security and climate change, the Programme primarily focuses its activities on water management in the sector.

Monitoring agricultural water use is crucial to understanding the basin-wide flow regime. While the scales of individual AIP irrigation projects are small at a national level, cumulative impacts on the flow regime are considerable and affect agricultural communities throughout the Lower Mekong Basin.

In preparation for natural events that impact farmers’ livelihoods such as climate change, extreme floods and droughts, the Programme relays real time flood and drought monitoring conditions to local and national agencies in order to better prepare men and women in the basin for emergency situations.

The Programme’s work also covers topics such as forestry and watershed management issues. These are now included under the Basin Development Plan Programme. Read more about the agriculture sector changes in Redefining MRC’s role in agriculture and water management.

Paddy fields provide multiple benefits

Paddy fields produce food, but they also provide other useful functions including flood mitigation, groundwater recharge, river flow stabilisation, capture and re-use of irrigation water, erosion control, and microclimate regulation as well as uses by rural households. MRC’s Demonstration of Multi-functionality of Paddy Fields over the Mekong River Basin project, as part of the AIP, revealed the vital importance of the myriad functions of paddy fields at target locations in Thailand and Viet Nam.

Improving irrigation efficiency

Efficient irrigation is necessary to ensure water is available for agricultural development as well as development in other sectors. MRC has supported the improvement of irrigation efficiency by providing technical guidance to water managers and national level planners. MRC completed the Improvement of Irrigation Efficiency on the Paddy Fields in the Lower Mekong Basin project and is building on this work in a new Sustainable and Efficient Water Use project. Through the AIP, MRC will continue to promote more efficient practices in irrigated agriculture, focusing on irrigation planning (water allocation) and irrigation scheduling (daily water distribution).

Programme Document

To know more about the Agriculture and Irrigation Programme, review the Programme Document.

 

Related Topics

For more information about Agriculture and Irrigation and Forestry in the Mekong River Basin visit the Agriculture and Irrigation Topic page.

Development Partners

The Government of Japan supports the Agriculture and Irrigation Programme.

Related News

MRC introduces publication on transboundary cooperation at World Water Week 2014

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) has published a technical paper highlighting the benefits of cooperation and the role of river and aquifer basin organisations in managing transboundary basins.

Mekong countries agree to convene additional meeting to seek conclusion on Xayaburi project

As the deadline for reaching a decision comes closer, four Lower Mekong Basin Countries have agreed to convene a special session on the prior consultation process for ...

Mekong countries adopt basin-wide directions for water development

Adoption of strategy ‘a milestone achievement’ towards transboundary cooperation