home

reports

functions

guidelines

contacts

resources

FAORAP


  Asia


Asia > home

This preliminary report was prepared by
FAO-AGL in reference to FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific,
Poverty Alleviation and Food Security in Asia: Land Resources,
July 1999. RAP Publication 1999/2.

Last updated: 9 December 2004

News :

3 Links ( 1 / 2 / 3 ) in 2.7 and 2 Links ( 1 / 2 ) in 2.8 are added [09/12/04]


Country list

 

icon overview   Regional Overview
icon land   Land resources
icon water   Water resources (AQUASTAT)
icon plant   Plant nutrient resources
icon hotspots   Hot spots
icon brightspots   Bright spots
icon challenges and view points   Challenges and viewpoints
icon references and links   References / Related internet links


1.   Regional overview


1.1  Geography and administrative units

1.2  Socio-economic features

1.3  Climate

1. > top


1.1  Geography and administrative units


For the general maps of Asia and the Pacific, refer to the following maps.

[Asia reference map - www.lib.utexas.edu]

[Oceania map - www.lib.utexas.edu]

The following internet sites can be entry points to Map/GIS resources in Asia.

[Australian Centre of the Asian Spatial Information and Analysis Network (ACASIAN) - School of Asian and International Studies, Griffith University]

[Asia Maps & GIS Web Resources - www.dbr.nu]

[Asia GIS Resources - www.hku.hk]

[GISdevelopment.net:The Asian GIS Portal]

1.1 > 1.




1.2  Socio-economic features


Political factors affecting SARD

[Text 1.2.1: Political factors] raises some examples in Asia where the strength of local political will and determination, with the backing of national authorities, can be decisive in determining the success of a SARM programme.

Food Security

The following paper illustrates issues of food security in Asia-Pacific region: (1) Defining "Food Security" (2) Food Security Case Studies: Indonesia, North Korea, and China; (3) Future Challenges to Food Security; and (4) the Security Implications of Food Security Problems.

[Food Security and Political Stability in the Asia-Pacific Region - Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies]

The following paper introduces the issues of food security in Asia in respect to different classes of land quality and associated population carrying capacity.

[Land quality and food security in Asia - paper by F.H. BEINROTH, H. ESWARAN, P.F. REICH / www.nhq.nrcs.usda.gov]


1.2 > 1.




1.3  Climate


Rainfall, temperature and biomas

There is considerable variation in the macro-climatic conditions in different parts of the Asia Pacific Region, ranging across the spectrum from arid to humid. Annual rainfall varies from over 10,000 mm in parts of the Central Highlands of Papua New Guinea to virtually zero in the Gobi and Australian deserts.
[Map 1.3.1: Distribution of Annual Rainfall in Asia]

Likewise across the region there is considerable variation in recorded temperatures. During the winter months in Mongolia the temperature commonly falls to below zero whereas in the summer months in the arid regions of Pakistan and Australia daytime temperatures can rise to over 50oC.
[Map 1.3.2: Distribution of Average Temperature in Asia]

Within the region can be found considerable variability in the length of growing season. Rainfed agriculture is restricted in many countries to that period of the year coinciding with the monsoon season(s). However in some of the more humid parts of the region rainfall occurs throughout the year giving an effective 12 months growing season. In addition in the northern and high altitude parts of the region the length of growing season will be curtailed by the occurrence of low temperatures (below 5oC).
[Map 1.3.3: Distribution of Potential Biomas in Asia]
[Map 1.3.4: General Climate Types of Asia]

Typhoons and cyclones

Tropical cyclones and typhoons are a feature of much of the region and result in heavy downpours with the risk of high runoff and flooding. The worst effects of the strong winds, tidal surges and heavy rainfall are mostly felt in coastal and island areas; the influence of some cyclones may extend into the interior of the Asian continent. For instance in early November 1995 the weather system associated with an unseasonal cyclone in the Bay of Bengal resulted in heavy snowfall in the mountains of Nepal, subsequent avalanches resulted in the deaths of several farmers and trekking tourists.

Islands in the Pacific and the Philippine archipelago are especially vulnerable to typhoons and cyclones. The smallest islands cannot deflect typhoons and cyclones, and are not large enough to moderate general climatic circulation patterns, making them vulnerable to drought and other climatic events, which can destroy complete ecosystems. Certain island ecosystems are resilient to such events e.g. the "typhoon forests" and indigenous farming systems of the Batanes Islands in the north of the Philippines (ASOCON 1990).

Where island ecosystems are used for human purposes, such long-term ecological resilience is commonly inadequate, and the natural disaster of a severe typhoon/cyclone event can be highly damaging to the local agricultural sector in the short term. The productive agricultural resource base is eroded, and natural regeneration (of soil and vegetation) is not fast enough to restore essential ecosystem processes (Bass and Dalal-Clayton 1995). The unusually destructive Cyclone Ofa that struck Western Samoa in February 1990 is reported to have so affected local food supplies that it took eight months before 80% of its agricultural capacity had recovered (Clarke 1994).

(See also the section of Natural hazards.)

Intense rainfall

Several features of the climatic variability within the Asia Pacific region lead to high natural hazards of degradation. Much of the region's rainfall is associated with storm events and hence can be expected to fall at erosive intensities. In those parts of the region with distinct wet and dry seasons, a severe dry season will lead to the death of annual vegetation and much bare soil exposed to the first rainstorms. In the arid and semi-arid parts of the region, rainfall is not only low but highly variable, leading to recurrent drought with consequences for wind erosion and loss of vegetative cover.

Mountain ranges and climate patterns

Many countries of the region have mountain ranges which typically exhibit a wide variety of micro-climates as both temperature and rainfall can vary significantly depending on altitude and aspect. There is a marked decrease in mean temperature with increasing altitude. The highest mountain ranges in the region (the Hindu Kush/Himalayas) may progress from tropical climatic conditions in their footslopes to arctic conditions at their peaks. Above certain altitudes the occurrence of regular frosts will limit crop production. The problems of cold may be exacerbated by strong winds. Rainfall usually increases with altitude particularly on the side of a mountain range facing the prevailing rain bearing winds. On the leeward side rainfall may drop off markedly. Within a mountain ecosystem there may be localised and severe rain shadow effects. Within and across mountain ranges the climate may vary from very humid to desert conditions.

Potentials of the regionally particular climates

While climatic variability in the region is a constraint to SARM it is also regarded as an opportunity. The range of macro and micro climatic conditions means that a great variety of annual crops, as well as perennial tree crops, can be grown within individual countries and across the region as a whole. This contributes to the diversity of agricultural production within the Asia Pacific region.


1.3 > 1.



2.   Land resources


2.1  Physiography

2.2  Soils

2.3  Agroecological systems

2.4  Wetlands, mangroves and inland valley bottoms

2.5  Inundation Land Types

2.6  Natural hazards

2.7  Land cover

2.8  Land use

2.9  Land use change

2.10  Land Productivity

2.11  Environmental Impact of land uses


2. > top


2.1  Physiography

 

Physiography

[Physical Map of Asia - www.lib.utk.edu]

2.1 > 2.




2.2  Soils


Major soils in Asia

[Chart 2.2.1: Major Soils in Asia] shows major soil types and their percentages in Asia.


Soil organic matter

Any attempt to assess the areal extent of soil constraints within the region has to be general in nature given the biophysical diversity and the variability in the availability and reliability of the necessary data. One such assessment has been made using data from the FAO/UNESCO Soil Map of the World (mapping scale of 1:5 million) to identify the major natural constraints to agricultural production (Dent 1990). Twelve soil constraint categories were recognised (see [List 5.1.1: Problem soils of the Asia Pacific Region]) and figures for their proportional extent by country and for the region as a whole were arrived at (see [Table 5.1.1: Extent of problem soils within Asia and the Pacific]), utilising a process of elimination based mainly on a somewhat arbitrary choice of the most limiting constraints.

(Also see the section of Hotspots: Land-related constraints: Soil constraints.)


2.2 > 2.




2.3  Agroecological systems


[Agroecological zones of Asia - riceweb.org]


2.3 > 2.




2.4  Wetlands, mangroves and inland valley bottoms


(Information not yet available.)


2.4 > 2.



2.5  Inundation Land Types


(Information not yet available.)


2.5 > 2.




2.6  Natural hazards


Storm Impact in Asia and the Pacific

The chart-map [Chart 2.6.1] shows the distribution of natural disasters in Asia by country and by type of phenomena (1975-1999).

[Chart 2.6.1: Distribution of Natural Disasters by Country and Type of Phenomena]

In Asia, severe floods are recurrent during the monsoon and rainy season, having disastrous humanitarian consequences. Crop losses are severe in affected areas but the overall impact at the national level varies among countries. In the last five years, there has been a noticeable increase in the occurrence of typhoons and floods. The damage in 2000 has been particularly widespread. Some examples of recent major storm-related disasters and their impact can be found in List 2.6.1.

[List 2.6.1: Examples of Recent Major Storm-related Disasters]

The following conference proceedings (Harvard University, April 30-May 1, 1999) point to some policy responses against natural disasters in Asia.

[Natural Disasters and Policy Response in Asia: Implications for Food Security - Harvard University Asia Center, Food Security in Asia]


2.6 > 2.




2.7  Land cover


Land / Forest cover

The following FAO Forestry web-site provides access to information on forest cover in Asian countries. Statistics and maps are also available.

[Distribution of forests in Asia and in each Asian country - FAO Forestry]

For other means of accessing to information on land cover in Asia in the global context, visit the section 2.7 Land cover of our Global Prospect report and find Asian regional profiles from the listed programs.

[Forest cover change assessment for Southeast Asia GVM of Institute for Environment and Sustainability][new]

[Map Asia 2002 - Land Use / Land Cover Analysis - Geospatial Resource Portal][new]

[Map Asia 2003 - Land Use / Land Cover Analysis - Geospatial Resource Portal][new]

 

2.7 > 2.




2.8  Land use


[Land-Use Change in Asia - Reserch: Stanford IIS] [new]

[Reform of land use urged as floodwaters rise across Asia - DAVID CYRANOSKI] [new]


2.8 > 2.




2.9  Land use change


(Information not yet available.)

2.9 > 2.




2.10  Land Productivity


(Information not yet available.)

2.10 > 2.




2.11  Environmental Impact of land uses


[Text 2.11.1: Environmental Degradation and Disaster Risk] (pdf 468kB)
Issue Paper Prepared by Asian Disaster Preparedness Center For Embassy of Sweden / Sida Bangkok, February 2004

2.11 > 2.


3.   Water Resources (AQUASTAT)


3.1  Hydrography

3.2  Irrigation and drainage

3. > top


3.1  Hydrography


Water resources, water withdrawal

[AQUASTAT: General Summary of Asia]

3.1 > 3.




3.2  Irrigation and drainage


Irrigation, irrigated land

[AQUASTAT: General Summary of Asia]

3.2 > 3.



4.   Plant nutrient resources


4.1  Plant nutrient use and nutrient balance

4.2  Fertilizer production and costs

4. > top


4.1  Plant nutrient use and nutrient balance


Plant as a nutrient resource

Within the soil-plant nutrient cycle there are a number of ways in which plants can supply the soil with nutrients. Knowledge of these can lead to improved management systems that use the natural processes to maintain and enhance soil productivity for agricultural purposes.
[Text 4.1.1: Plant as a nutrient resource] explains some basic functions of plants as a nutrient resource.

The following paper further explains the issues of plant nutrition and shows calculation of nutrient balance in selected 10 countries in Asia, namely: Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Korea Rep., Malaysia, and Japan.
[Plant Nutrient Balances in the Asian and Pacific Region - The Consequences for Agricultural Production - Ernst W. Mutert, East & Southeast Asia Program, Potash & Phosphate Institute / Food and Fertilizer Technology Center]


Organic manure

[Table 4.1.1: Source and type of organic manure used on-farm in the Asia Pacific Region]


4.1 > 4.




4.2  Fertilizer production and costs


The following website: FADINAP (Fertilizer Advisory, Development and Information Network for Asia and the Pacific) has its own Country Gateway for nation-wide information on fetilizer use and production (on the left column of the page). Countires included are: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

[FADINAP (Fertilizer Advisory, Development and Information Network for Asia and the Pacific)]



4.2 > 4.



5.   Hot spots


5.0  Overview: constraints to sustainable agriculture

5.1  Land-related constraints

5.2  Water-related constraints

5.3  Plant Nutrition-related constraints

5.4  Other constraints

5. > top


5.0  Overview


(Information not yet available.)


5.0 > 5.




5.1  Land-related constraints to sustainable agriculture


The total land area of the Asia Pacific region amounts to some 3,001.5 million ha or 22.9% of the world's land area. Estimates vary as to how much of this land is suitable for agriculture, with variations in the data depending on the methodology used, the reliability of the available data and the scale at which the assessment was made. It has been estimated that under 14% of the Asia Pacific region's total land area are constraint-free for agriculture (Dent 1990). Thus the possibilities for agricultural production in over 86% of the region are limited by adverse soil, climatic and topographic factors namely cold (2%), dryness (19.4%) steep slopes (26.7%), shallow soils (4.1%), wetness (6.3%), adverse soil textures (12.6%) and chemical problems (13.5%).

Whereas there may be scope for technically alleviating some of these limitations (e.g. irrigation in arid areas, soil drainage in waterlogged areas), in most of the countries in the region almost all the land capable of sustainable agricultural use is already being farmed. FAO (1995a) estimated that that the uncropped cultivable area in South Asia (0.051 has per person) will be halved in 20 years, while that of East Asia (excluding China) will drop by a third, or to 0.103 ha per person. These estimates show the limited potential for expansion of the cultivated area. A recent report on the Pacific (ADB/SPREP 1992) noted the small amount of available land per person in most of the Pacific Island developing countries, especially when considering the generally poor quality soil. Significant additional arable land was considered a reasonable prospect in only a few exceptional circumstances (notably Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu).


Definition of land degradation

Land degradation is the reduction in the capability of the land to produce benefits from a particular land use under a specified form of land management (after Blaikie & Brookfield 1987).


Components of land degradation

There are a number of interrelated land degradation components, all of which may contribute to a decline in agricultural production. The most important are (Douglas 1994):


Causes of land degradation

The causes of land degradation can be divided into natural hazards, direct causes and underlying causes (FAO 1994a).

  • Natural hazards [Text 5.1.6] relate to those factors of the bio-physical environment that increase the risk of land degradation taking place e.g. steep slopes are a hazard for water erosion.
  • Direct causes [Text 5.1.7] are unsuitable land use and inappropriate land management practices.
  • Underlying causes [Text 5.1.8] are the reasons why inappropriate types of land use and management are practised and usually relate to the socio-economic circumstances of the land users and/or the social, cultural, economic and policy environment in which they operate.

These causes are often compound in nature as is seen in the typical case of downstream sedimentation [Text 5.1.9].

The following UNEP paper (Environmental Outlook for Asia Pacific) also summarizes major land-related hotspots in the region.
[Asia Pacific Environmental Outlook: Emerging Issues: Land]


Soil constraints

Any attempt to assess the areal extent of soil constraints within the region has to be general in nature given the biophysical diversity and the variability in the availability and reliability of the necessary data. One such assessment has been made using data from the FAO/UNESCO Soil Map of the World (mapping scale of 1:5 million) to identify the major natural constraints to agricultural production (Dent 1990). Twelve soil constraint categories were recognised (see [List 5.1.1: Problem soils of the Asia Pacific Region]) and figures for their proportional extent by country and for the region as a whole were arrived at (see [Table 5.1.1: Extent of problem soils within Asia and the Pacific]), utilising a process of elimination based mainly on a somewhat arbitrary choice of the most limiting constraints.


The following paper provides overview of human-induced soil degradation in South and Southeast Asia. (pdf 109KB)

F.J. Dent, Approaches of Land Vulnerability Assessment for Food Security in Asia, with Special Reference to the Results of the UNEP/FAO/ISRIC Project on the Assessment of Human-Induced Soil Degradation in South and Southeast Asia (ASSOD).


5.1 > 5.




5.2  Water-related constraints to sustainable agriculture


Water resource constraints

Water like land, is becoming a scarce resource within the Asia Pacific region. Much of the extra food produced in Asia between 1960 and 1980 was grown in irrigated land. Unfortunately the rapid expansion of the irrigated areas in that period is not continuing, and the demands on existing supplies for non-agricultural purposes (e.g. urban and rural drinking water, industrial and mining enterprises) increasingly compete with irrigation. It is becoming more difficult to identify new opportunities to develop water storage facilities. The construction of large dams is now generally recognised as uneconomic when based on a realistic estimate of the costs, which include the need for erosion control in the catchment area and drainage facilities in the command area (Greenland et al 1994). Also many dam projects in the Asia region are faced with growing opposition from local communities and the wider public due to their potential environmental, social and cultural impact.

Rather than large-scale dam construction, developing water-harvesting methods and microcatchment storage systems appear to merit more attention. However for crop production the most important problem is to improve water-use efficiency. This requires efficiency in the supply of water to the field, and efficiency in the use of water by the crop to increase economic yield. Many irrigation schemes also function at very low efficiencies (Greenland et al 1994). The expected life of many irrigation systems has also had to be drastically reduced because of soil erosion problems in the catchment area of the reservoir, causing excessively rapid siltation (See [Table 5.2.1: Siltation of reservoirs in India] as an example). In addition to improving the efficiency of the irrigation system there is scope for better crop selection. Different annual and perennial crops (or cultivars) will have varying water requirements for optimum growth. Thus crops with high water demand could be substituted for less demanding crops in order to match crop water requirements with water availability at critical times of the year.

Water degradation

Refer to [Text 5.1.3: Water degradation] in the section of 5.1 Land-related constraints to sustainable agriculture: Components of land degradation.


5.2 > 5.




5.3  Plant Nutrition-related constraints to sustainable agriculture


Refer to the section [4.2 Fertilizer production and costs] of this report. Visit the following website.

[FADINAP (Fertilizer Advisory, Development and Information Network for Asia and the Pacific)]



5.3 > 5.




5.4  Other constraints to sustainable agriculture


(Information not yet available.)


5.4 > 5.



6.   Bright spots


6.0  Overview: society's response to ameliorate the situation

6.1  Land-related response indicators

6.2  Water-related response indicators

6.3  Plant Nutrition-related response indicators

6.4  Other response indicators

6. > top


6.0  Overview: society's response to ameliorate the situation


Regional collaborative programmes

Several regional collaborative TCDC programmes have made valuable contributions to the coordination of knowledge on SARM, developed a variety of SARM technologies and participatory planning methodologies and provided policy guidelines of action. Some of the key programmes are shown in the [List 6.0.1].

[List: 6.0.1: Regional collaborative programmes]

Regional institutions and programmes organized specifically in Pacific region are shown in:
[List: 6.0.2: Pacific regional institutions and programs].


6.0 > 6.




6.1  Land-related response indicators


Institutional response

[Asia Pacific Environmental Outlook: Policy Responses and Directions: Land]

6.1 > 6.




6.2  Water-related response indicators


Institutional response

[Asia Pacific Environmental Outlook: Policy Responses and Directions: Water]

6.2 > 6.




6.3  Plant Nutrition-related response indicators


(Information not yet available.)

6.3 > 6.




6.4  Other response indicators


(Information not yet available.)

6.4 > 6.


7.   Challenges and viewpoints

7. > top


Institutional challenges for SARD

Development of the multi-sectoral approach needed for SARM is hindered because government departments are still largely compartmentalised and geared for top down operations.
[Text 7.1: Government institutional support] touches upon some typical institutional challenges faced by Asia Pacific countries.

> 7.


8.   References and related internet links


8.1  References

8.2  Related internet links

8. > top


8.1  References


  • The text of this report was taken from FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Poverty Alleviation and Food Security in Asia: Land Resources, July 1999. RAP Publication 1999/2. The full text (463KB: a zipped folder of word files) is available to download. Original references from this book shall be added.


8.1 > 8.




8.2  Related internet links


(Refer to each section of this report. More related sites shall be accumulated.)


8.2 > 8.


history

[XX/07/99] on-line
[17/03/04] [Text 2.11.1] is on-line
[09/12/04] 3 Links ( 1 / 2 / 3 ) in 2.7 and 2 Links ( 1 / 2 ) in 2.8 are added

about    acknowledgments    disclaimer    copyright

last updated: 9 December 2004