China has the largest expanse of irrigated lands in the world, which helps ensure food security at home, a water resources official has said.

China has an irrigated area of 74 million hectares, covering half of the country’s farmlands, said Ni Wenjin, an official with the Ministry of Water Resources, at a Belt & Road Forum on irrigation and drainage on Tuesday.

“The development of irrigation and drainage is one of the priorities of the ongoing rural vitalisation and agricultural modernisation drive in China,” said Ni.

The country has seen 20 million more hectares of lands irrigated with agricultural water consumption basically unchanged for three decades, using water-saving irrigation technology in 46.3 percent of irrigated lands nationwide.

Pricing reforms for agricultural water are also underway to help economise water usage, Ni added.

China is sharing duplicable experiences with Belt & Road Countries in addressing water scarcity.

The Ministry has inked agreements or memorandums with over 60 countries regarding irrigation related cooperation since the Belt & Road Initiative was brought up in 2013, according to Ni.

A nation which has to feed nearly 1.4 billion people, China has been building drought and flood resistant farmland over the last eight years. With more than 40 percent of China’s arable land suffering from degradation, the government has been creating 55 billion tons of artificial rain a year since 2013.

The efforts are part of a project called Tianhe or ‘Sky River’, in which China hopes to force extra rain over 1.6 million square kilometres, an area roughly three times the size of Spain.