Gov’t approves irrigation system strategy

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The Government on Wednesday approved the strategy on the irrigation system, by expanding the area of the land to be irrigated by 210,000 hectares, i.e. to 763,000 hectares from 553,000 hectares, Agriculture Minister Ilie Sarbu announced.
The costs incurred by the implementation of the strategy total 100 million lei (some 23.5 million euros).
‘When I left as agriculture minister in 2004, there were 1.5 million hectares under irrigation. When I took up office, there were only 60,000 hectares. At this moment there are 563,000 hectares being irrigated, of which 553,000, accounting for 99 percent, are contracted by the organisations of the irrigation water users.
Until May 25, there were applications to use the irrigation system for just 41,000 hectares sown to wheat and barley and a total 82,000 hectares’, Sarbu announced.
He said he was expecting the owners of land on which farm crops are grown to also apply for the use of the irrigation system in the coming period.
The minister announced the Government had set up a commission made up of the representatives of several ministries – the Ministry of Administration and Interior, the Economy Ministry, the Public Finance Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry – to look into the possibility to supply lower-cost electricity to the irrigation system. He anticipated the number of the beneficiaries of irrigation water would rise.
The strategy approved by the Executive has three components – on the short-, medium- and long-term, Sarbu added.
‘We are considering a complete restructuring of the current irrigation system. (…) The system is technologically outdated, the energy consumption is very high, water is still being pumped from the Danube River. The main pipes are not in a too good condition either’, he stressed.
The minister said an integrated system was going to be set up, with respect to land reclamation and irrigations.
The farming system will face a water crisis in the next 10 to 20 years, Sarbu cautioned.
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