March 23, 2018 / 7:45 AM / a year ago

World Bank backs efforts to control agricultural pollution in East Asia

FILE PHOTO: Wheat straws are burned on a field on the outskirts of Luoyang, central China's Henan province May 27, 2007. REUTERS/Carlf Zhang

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The World Bank is backing efforts to control agricultural pollution in East Asia, the bank said in a statement, as rising consumption and urbanization boost the region’s food demand.

The World Bank has published a new study which highlights the incidence and significant consequences of agricultural pollution in China, Vietnam and the Philippines, it said.

“This report shows that a reorientation of public policy and spending toward pollution control can benefit farmers and consumers alike,” Victoria Kwakwa, the bank’s vice president for East Asia, said in the statement.

In China, the bank’s efforts include projects reducing ammonia from fertilizer application in Hebei province, and reducing crop and livestock pollution in Guangdong province.

China has been hit by a series of food safety scandals in recent years such as contaminated milk powder and recycled cooking oil, and has embarked on its own nationwide crackdown on farm pollution.

The country will form a powerful new competition and food safety regulator to strengthen oversight of mergers and acquisitions and price-fixing as the world’s second-largest economy seeks to make policymaking more efficient.

World Bank financing will also help scale up innovative aquaculture practices that increase shrimp yields while reducing water pollution on about 100,000 hectares over the next 5 years in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, the statement said.

In the Philippines, a World Bank-financed irrigation project has trained farmers in alternate wetting and drying growing methods that save water and energy while increasing rice yields.

Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Tom Hogue

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