Over 100 farmers, members of 24 Water Users Associations met today at the VI-th edition of the annual WUA conference, organized with the support of Sustainable Development Account Moldova (SDA Moldova) and USAID Project High Value Agriculture Activity Project (HVAA/USAID).
The participants at the event numbered members of the 10 WUAs which manage rehabilitated irrigation systems from US Government funds, as well as new associations, in the process of undertaking the management of irrigation systems.
Farmers, together with representatives of public authorities and development partners present at the event, discussed the development evolutions of the centralized irrigation systems (CIS) transferred to WUAs’ management, as well as the transfer evolution of other non-rehabilitated centralized irrigation systems to newly created WUAs. At the same time, the main challenges generated by the climate change and possible solutions to foster irrigation efficiency and the rational use of water resources were also topics discussed during the event.
According to SDA Moldova, in the last period, the lack of precipitation and hot summers lead more farmers to reallocate their agricultural activities in areas with access to irrigation infrastructure, which allows them to produce high value crops and diminish the risks of losing crops. Hence, throughout 2019, 10 farmers have decided to develop businesses in areas with access to CIS, having been involved in the cultivation of strawberries, sugar beets, vegetables, grapes. Following the efforts of WUAs, development partners and the perseverence of farmers, in 2019, the 10 WUAs which manage rehabilitated systems delivered a volume of 2,3 million m3, an increase with 10 per cent comparing to last year.
The Minister of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment, Ion Perju encouraged the active engagement of farmers in the process of exploitation, modernization and in the increase of the efficiency of irrigation systems. According to the Minister, the good results displayed by WUAs created during Compact, which manage rehabilitated irrigation systems, determined the Government to initiate, at the farmers’ initiative, the transfer of other 12 centralized irrigation systems for free usage to newly created WUAs. At the same time, Minister Ion Perju noted that „maintaining and improving the irrigation sector requires substantial investments, and the implementation of a national program in the irrigation field remains to be a priority in the Ministry’s agenda.”
Valentina Badrajan, Executive director of SDA Moldova noted that, due to the institution’s activities, SDA Moldova creates premises for a sustainable rural development. „In this context, in 2020 we will continue offering support to WUAs and Apele Moldovei Agency in the process of implementation of a sustainable model of managing the centralized irrigation systems and will support modernization projects of irrigation systems in order to contribute to the extension of irrigated areas in the areas of centralized irrigation systems and the transition to high value agriculture,” mentioned the Executive Director of SDA Moldova.
Benjamin Toric, HVAA/USAID Project Director mentioned that the synergy between development partners, public authorities and farmers can lead to real change in the agriculture sector and the state of life in rural areas. Sometimes, a small incentive is enough to act as a catalyst for new investments in areas with access to irrigation and to stimulate the development of new profitable businesses in agriculture. As an example is the experience of the HVAA/USAID project which offered in the rehabilitated irrigation areas grants amounting to approximately 345 thousand USD, which generated additional private investments of over 1,7 million USD.
According to official data, in the Republic of Moldova there are 88 irrigation systems, built in the soviet period. Out of these, only 10 irrigation systems have been rehabilitated throughout 2010-2015, with US Government funds through Compact Program. Other 78 irrigation systems are functional, partially functional or non-functional. At this moment, 15 centralized irrigation systems are managed by WUAs created by farmers, and the other 73 are managed by public authorities. The 88 irrigation systems ensured the irrigation of 10 per cent of the total agricultural lands in Moldova in 2019.