Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Time to stop growing 'thirsty' rice in Australia Eric Craswell, from the Australian National University's Fenner School of Environment and Society, said rice used 10 times as much water as some other crops. Dr Craswell says it should no longer be planted in the Murray-Darling Basin, and the water be allowed to flow through the river system to help the environment. "People have said you shouldn't single out particular industries but I think in the case of rice there is an argument," he said. "Instead of growing rice in the very wet years, let that water go down the river to rejuvenate the wetlands."

Saying most Australian rice was exported, Dr Craswell questioned why the nation was growing rice for overseas markets when water was running so low. Rice-growing should be left to countries with monsoonal climates like Thailand, he said. Dr Craswell said that using a litre of water to grow vegetables or grapes produced 10 times as much revenue as using that water to grow rice.

In a wet year, 11 per cent of irrigation water is used to grow rice, but that produces just four per cent of the produce by value. Rice has to be flooded and is only grown in Australia in wet years....

Japanese rice symbol from "Le livre des fleurs", by Nyoiti Sakurazawa, DL: 24871 (Editions Ohsawa), Wikimedia Commons

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