Lecture 14: Agriculture I

by Mongkolchai Assawadithalerd, Chulalongkorn University

Water management for agriculture is crucial for food productivity. However, the supply of food crop for energy production is also a major concern for both water and land requirements focusing on food security. It is undeniable that water is linked to soil, air, and living things, therefore, water balance should be considered in the whole system of hydrological cycle. In addition, genetically modified organism plants (GMOs) and pesticides are increasingly used to control insects, but they may affect biodiversity both in quantity and quality aspects. In agriculture, productivity is the main focus, but it should also be included other factors such as the production technology, trading, and management that will cover socioeconomic and sustainability issues. Water demand and water use in Asia is increasing for supplying agricultural, industry, and domestic purposes. Water footprint should be introduced to consumers in order to remind people that the products they consumed required many liters of water to be produced in one mass unit; for example, chocolate and rice respectively consume 24,000 and 3,400 L/kg of water.

In the case of Songkla lake basin, various types of plant were cultivated in different areas. Rice cultivated in low land area, rambutan and local fruit called Sa-toe (Parkia speciosa) from mountain area are agricultural products from this area. For upland area, rubber plantation raises concern about productivity in wet season since rubber plant provides small amount of rubber yield. Thus, crop integration is promoted for farmers to possibly increase their income approximately 3 times compared to monocrop of rubber plant. Interestingly, many kinds of plants can grow up in rubber plantation such as bamboo, banana, and other fruits. This policy is very successful in this area to solve the problems of socio-economic issues related to rubber plantation. This lecture provided great knowledge on the importance of water on agriculture sector which is interconnected with other dimensions, emphasizing that water management is needed for water sustainability in the future.