Sarbu: Romania’s irrigation system could be operational on 760,000 hectares this year

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The Romanian irrigation system could be operational on 760,000 hectares this year, by 200,000 hectares more than at present, if the required funds of 100 million lei are available, Minister of Agriculture, Forests and Rural Development Ilie Sarbu told on Tuesday.
‘We have the possibility to commission the irrigation system on another 200,000 hectares in the shortest possible time, if we get the required money at some 100 million lei. The system is now operating on just 560,000 hectares’, Sarbu stressed.
The minister announced he would present the Government on Wednesday the strategy on irrigation drafted by the National Land Reclamation Agency (NLRA) and the environmental officials, but he added the estimated costs are huge, unfortunately.
‘The NLRA design institute and the specialists of the National Meteorology and Hydrology Administration worked on an irrigation strategy, but we must re-think and restructure the system, because the costs are very high as it looks now.
Although we have a strategy, the issue is: are we ready to invest, to take a bank loan for the system restructuring, as it is only at times of crisis or drought that we remember we don’t have a functioning irrigation system’, Sarbu pointed out.
The agriculture minister said President Traian Basescu’s remarks on the way the Romanian irrigation system functions are right, given that in the last four years of National Liberal rule nothing was done in this respect.
‘They did nothing for four years, though in 2004 we left them some 1.5 million hectares operational under the irrigation system and in 2008 we found only 60,000 hectares. They could have reached 3 million hectares in four years, but unfortunately it is a tragedy, since nothing was done and everything was destroyed’, Sarbu said.
The Land Reclamation Agency this spring irrigated less than 10 percent of the total 559,966 hectares of the area that the Organisations of the Water Users and other beneficiaries contracted, i.e. it irrigated 46,385.1 hectares of farmland by this May 18.
The supplied water so far totals 31.860 million cubic metres, meaning the irrigation amounted to 735.7 cubic metres per hectare.
The National Weather Forecaster said that while Romania will face sizzling temperatures of 38-40 degrees Celsius and drought this summer, such phenomena will hit certain areas only, mostly in the east, southeast and south.
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