China seeks private investment for irrigation improvements

The Chinese government is seeking private investment in irrigation projects for the country’s agriculture sector in order to shore up food security.

The Chinese government will increase its investment and seek further private investment in domestic agricultural irrigation projects, according to a policy briefing by the Chinese State Council.

It was not clear whether the the government will be open to foreign investment.

The move to open up farmland irrigation projects to private investment is part of a broader plan to improve water use and conservancy in China’s agriculture sector, said Chinese vice minister of water resources Tian Xuebin. He described farmland irrigation improvements as crucial to ensuring an adequate domestic grain supply.

“Currently, China’s water conservancy construction systems for organization, investment, planning, maintenance and utilization are not enough. Lack of related laws has limited the formation of a long-term effective mechanism for the construction of farmland irrigation and water conservancy projects,” said Tian, who described China’s national irrigation system as “backwards”.

As it opens up to foreign investment, Tian said the Ministry of Water Resources will implement new rules governing construction, management and maintenance of irrigation projects.

China is investing heavily in reforming its own agricultural industries while forging links to global supply chains, as previously reported by Agri Investor. It will take roughly 15 million additional hectares of farmland to meet the country’s rising demand for animal protein, a 2015 PwC report estimated. However, pollution, water scarcity and land degradation have hampered farmland productivity within the country.