Kazakhstan works with neighboring countries to provide irrigation water to farmers

Today at the Government meeting the issue of efficient use of water resources during the growing season was considered. Ministers of Ecology and Natural Resources Zulfiya Suleimenova and Agriculture Yerbol Karashukeyev, as well as regional akims made reports.

According to the head of the Ministry of Ecology Suleimenova, in recent years in the southern regions of the country, where irrigated agriculture is developed, water shortage is acutely felt. In order to ensure stable passage of the growing season this year, preparatory works were started from December 2022.

"We approved the Work Plan for the non-vegetation and vegetation periods of 2022-2023, within the framework of which external and internal measures are currently being implemented," Suleimenova said.

These activities include the following areas.

  • work with neighboring countries to provide irrigation water to farmers and additional water releases from upstream reservoirs;
  • repair and rehabilitation works on hydraulic structures;
  • cleaning of main and inter-farm canals of the irrigation network;
  • introduction of water-saving technologies.

In the first direction, on May 10 in Dushanbe within the framework of the 84th meeting of the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination, the forecast operation mode of the Naryn-Syrdarya reservoir cascade was agreed upon, according to which the inflow to the Shardara reservoir during the growing season should be 4.2 billion m3, and water supply through the "Dostyk" canal is planned in the amount of 920 million m3. At the moment, the schedule is not fully implemented, in connection with the Ministry is working with counterparties to ensure inflow according to the approved schedule.

June 22 in the tripartite format Kazakhstan - Tajikistan - Uzbekistan also approved a schedule of operation of the reservoir "Bakhri-Tochik" for June-August this year. As part of it at the peak of the growing season is expected to supply an additional 490.8 million m3 of water to the Kazakh part of the canal "Dostyk".

Schedules of water supply to water management facilities of interstate use in the basins of the Shu and Talas rivers have been approved. Thus, for the growing season of 2023 on the Shu River is expected to inflow a total of 153.95 million m3 (MMC - 120.12 million m3), on the Talas River - 178.42 million m3.

Further, the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources dwelled on the water situation in some provinces.

"There is a tense situation in Zhambyl region due to low recharge of water reservoirs on the territory of Kyrgyzstan due to weak melting of glaciers. According to the preliminary forecast of Kyrgyzhydromet for the growing season of 2023, the water content of the Shu and Talas rivers was expected to be from 100 to 120% of the norm. However, monitoring of incoming water and filling of reservoirs shows that the forecast is not confirmed. According to the Water Resources Service of Kyrgyzstan, the water content of these rivers was two times lower than normal," she said.

For rational water use and crop conservation, the Zhambyl region Akimat was recommended to prioritize water supply, strictly observe water rotation and irrigation order. At the same time, a number of problems have been identified in the region that negatively affect water availability. Thus, it was found out that there is no reliable data on actually used irrigated lands. According to the Akimat information, there are 181 thousand hectares of irrigated lands, while this year under the concluded contracts Kazvodkhoz supplies water only to 93.6 thousand hectares of lands.

At the same time, rainfed lands are transferred to irrigated lands with their connection to existing canals. This, in turn, negatively affects water supply to the tail part of canals. Some peasant farms have sown fields and have not concluded contracts for water supply with RSE Kazvodkhoz, which in general distorts the situation on water supply.

There is illegal connection of pumps to main canals. For example, there are more than 200 such pumps in Tasotkel MD. The work on conclusion of contracts and accounting of water discharge by such water users is underway.

"Taking into account the current situation, it is necessary to prioritize water supply by crops and strictly observe water rotation and irrigation order," Zulfiya Suleimenova added.

In Turkestan province, low water inflow to the Shardara reservoir has been observed since April. From April 1 to June 30 this year, the Shardara reservoir was expected to receive 2.23 billion m3 of water, but actually received 1.291 billion m3.

Also, according to the forecasts of Kazhydromet and Uzhydromet for the growing season, the water content of rivers in the Syrdarya basin was expected to be below and around the norm. In this regard, the Basin Inspection reduced the limit of water use for regular irrigation from the Syrdarya River. The Akimat of Turkestan province was recommended to reduce sowing of moisture-loving crops, as well as to exclude sowing of rice in Maktaaral and Zhetysai districts.

Despite this in the current year in Turkestan region rice sowing areas are increased by 2.35 thousand hectares in comparison with 2022 from 1.5 thousand hectares to 3.853 thousand hectares. At the same time, rice sowing areas in Zhetysai district were increased by 5.5 times, and in Maktaaral district by 15 times.

In addition, cotton crops were increased by 5.29 thousand hectares compared to the originally planned. The increase occurred from planned 79.7 thousand hectares to 84.990 thousand hectares.

Moreover, in the region the works on leaching and water recharge were started a month later, after the reduction of flood runoff. This resulted in the necessity to connect the canal for machine water supply from the Shardara reservoir in March. In connection with the increased water demand due to the increased area under water-loving crops, the Ministry was forced to reconnect the machine canal in May in order to reduce the acute shortage of irrigation water.

At the same time, due to non-implementation of the recommendation of the Ministry of Environment, the issue of water supply to Otyrar district has become acute due to improper regulation of the Arys River flow regime by "Turan Su" municipal enterprise. At the moment, the Ministry of Environment is forced to carry out sanitary releases from the Badam reservoir to alleviate acute water shortage, although in practice releases from the reservoir should be carried out in July and August.

In Kyzylorda region, also due to low water inflow to the Shardara reservoir, a tense situation on water supply to irrigated lands, especially rice crops, is not excluded in July. In 2023, rice sowing was planned on the area of 83.9 thousand hectares of rice. In fact, 88.107 thousand hectares were sown, which is almost 10 thousand hectares more than in 2022. It should also be noted that the Ministry has repeatedly emphasized the need to reduce rice plantings in the region.

Due to low water availability, the basin inspection reduced the limit on water use for regular irrigation.

"In Almaty and Zhetisu provinces water situation is generally stable. All reservoirs here operate in accordance with the approved schedule for the growing season. But in Turkestan, Kyzylorda and Zhambyl provinces water situation remains tense. The situation is under constant control and the Ministry will take all necessary measures to mitigate the effects of low water," she said.

At the same time, provincial akimats need to take additional measures:

  1. It is necessary to carry out information and awareness-raising work with agricultural producers on the current situation and measures taken;
  2. Together with branches of RSE "Kazvodkhoz" organize application of planned round-the-clock water use with drawing up and observance of daily operational schedules of water supply, application of collector-drainage water reuse;
  3. To ensure the operation mode of hydraulic structures agreed with RSE "Kazvodkhoz" and strictly adhere to the recommendations of the Ministry.

The Ministry of Agriculture was recommended to intensify work on increasing the introduction of water-saving technologies on irrigated lands in the southern provinces and to strengthen monitoring of the ameliorative condition of irrigated lands.

The Minister of Agriculture Yerbol Karashukeyev told about irrigation and water consumption.

The Head of the Ministry of Agriculture reported that this year spring field works were successfully carried out in all regions in optimal agricultural terms. Special attention is paid to the development of irrigated farming, as it plays an important role in agricultural production to ensure food security under the ongoing cycle of low water and global climate change.

Thus, according to the data of regional akimats, 1.58 million hectares of irrigated land are cultivated this year. Based on last year's volume of water withdrawal for irrigation of 1.58 million hectares, 11.4 billion m3 of water will be required for irrigation of rice and fodder crops. 1 million 126 thousand hectares or 71% of the land is irrigated by furrow irrigation, 97.9 thousand hectares are flooded rice fields, modern drip or sprinkler irrigation is used on 278.6 thousand hectares or 17.6%.

"Systematic work on diversification of areas of water-intensive and monocultures continues. Thus, this year due to transition to other highly profitable crops the cotton area has been reduced by 14.8 thousand hectares. There is no sharp decrease in rice crops. The main reason is the social importance of the crop, as well as salinity of soils in Kyzylorda region," Karashukeyev noted.

In turn, the akimat of Kyzylorda region motivates the increase of rice sowing from 78 thousand hectares to 88.1 thousand hectares, as in recent years at the expense of the republican and local budgets work on reconstruction of canals, purchase of pumping stations, as well as strengthening of water diplomacy works is carried out.

The Minister of Agriculture also dwelled on the work on introduction of water-saving technologies.

Firstly, within the framework of investment subsidies, 50% of incurred costs of farmers are reimbursed for the purchase of water-saving technologies, as well as connection of basic infrastructure for water intake and supply.

Secondly, parallel work is being carried out to attract investors who have opportunities to implement production projects in the Republic of Kazakhstan. For example, the Israeli company "Metzerplas" plans to launch a plant for the production of drip pipes at its own expense this fall. In addition, with the Chinese company Vodar and Turkish company Afko it is planned to open plants for the production of sprinkling machines.

Thirdly, the cost of water supply services is subsidized, where the amount of subsidies per one cubic meter of water is differentiated from 50% to 85% as a percentage of tariffs.

In his messages, the Head of State always pays special attention to water resources accounting. In this regard and in accordance with the requirements of the Water Code, the Rules for subsidizing water supply have been amended in terms of determining the volume of water supplied to farmers at the point of allotment based on the readings of metering devices or measuring devices and installations.

Also, in accordance with the prescription of the Audit Chamber, work is underway to differentiate subsidies for water supply depending on irrigation methods, i.e. only farmers using water-saving technologies will receive subsidies at the same level. The relevant draft order is at the stage of coordination with the interested state bodies.

"The issue of increasing the share of reimbursement of farmers' costs for drilling wells up to 80% at the expense of the local budget is being worked out. After agreement with stakeholders, these changes will be introduced into the rules of investment subsidies in accordance with the established legislative procedure. In this regard, given that the issues of water supply services, as well as water accounting are assigned to the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, we propose them together with regional akimats to conduct explanatory among farmers on the choice and installation of metering devices or measuring devices and installations," Karashukeyev said.

According to the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, over the past 5 years, an average of 1.2 million hectares have been irrigated. As a result of non-water availability annually about 300 thousand hectares are used without irrigation, i.e. during transportation of water through canals there are large excessive losses. In accordance with the current legislation, administrative responsibility for irrational water use is stipulated. However, to date, there are no facts about bringing water management organizations to responsibility for irrational water use.

At the same time, at present, the situation with water supply to irrigated lands in some provinces is of concern. This is mainly due to unstable water supply from interstate shared water management facilities.

Despite the fact that water resources management issues have been transferred to the competence of the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture continues to receive letters and appeals from farmers. In order to ensure accessibility, transparency and simplification of procedures for irrigation water supply services, the Ministry of Ecology together with provincial Akimats is proposed to:

  • approve the rules of water supply to farmers;
  • automate the process of water supply to farmers;
  • organize works on establishing communal and private water management organizations;
  • approve tariffs for irrigation methods, i.e. one tariff for water-saving technologies and another tariff for surface irrigation.

Darhan Satybaldy reported on the situation in Turkestan province. There this year crops are placed on 860 thousand hectares, of which 489 thousand hectares are irrigated lands. The growing season is stable in most of the region.

At present, 173 million cubic meters of water is available in Bugun reservoir, which provides irrigation water to farmers. According to the plan, 65 cubic meters of irrigation water per second is delivered from Uzbekistan through main canals "Zakh", "Khanym", "Bolshoi Keles". At the same time, the interstate main canal "Dostyk", which provides irrigation water to the southern regions of the province, annually delivers irrigation water less than the approved limit.

As a result, there is a deficit of irrigation water on 140 thousand hectares of irrigated lands in Maktaaral and Zhetysai districts. These districts directly depend on the Dostyk canal.

From the beginning of the year it was planned to receive 603 million cubic meters of irrigation water, actually received 434 million cubic meters or 28% less than the plan. To address this issue, 40 million cubic meters of irrigation water was additionally released from the Shardara reservoir through the Mashin Canal to the main canal "Dostyk".

Also, on June 22, as a result of intergovernmental negotiations between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, a trilateral agreement was reached and the schedule of 491 million cubic meters of water release during the growing season from the reservoir "Bakhri-Tochik" to the main canal "Dostyk" was approved.

"Meanwhile, there are a number of urgent issues regarding water supply to the southern regions of the region. In particular, 75% of water facilities in the region are worn out, water losses amount to 40%. To solve this problem, it is necessary to carry out rehabilitation works and stage-by-stage concreting of water facilities," Satybaldy said.

#Government session #Ministry of Agriculture #Ministry of Environment #water resources

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