IRRIGATED AGRICULTURE - INFRASTRUCTURE
One of the priority measures towards poverty reduction in rural areas is the development of crop cultivation, where more than 80% of production is the result of irrigated agriculture. About 300 thousands farms are involved in irrigated agriculture and, based on this, receive almost half of their incomes.
Irrigation system of Armenia was established mainly during the Soviet period and intended to irrigate about 280 thousands ha of lands. The system includes 70 reservoirs, 3,000 km of main and secondary canals, about 18,000 km of tertiary canals, more than 400 large and medium size pumping stations. In the last years of Soviet era about 60 million rubles were spent only for the system operation and 120 million rubles for system development. After the collapse of the Soviet Union due to imperfect and expensive irrigation system, lack of state resources and insolvency of new small land owners, the irrigation system has nearly deteriorated.
In the mid 90s with the projects financed by the World Bank and RA Government it became possible to escape potential accidents and reliable water supply was provided for the majority of irrigated lands. Implementing projects gave a start to irrigation sector institutional reforms, which is the precondition for further sustainable development of the sector.
Nevertheless, up to date, it is impossible to ensure complete self- financing of the sector, which is the main guarantee for further effective operation of the sector. Very large pumping stations, constructed during the Soviet period are able to operate now only with state subsidies, meantime, there is an option for replacement of these pumping stations by gravity systems, which should be included in the investment projects of the sector. At the same time, it is necessary to re-equip and increase efficiency of the pumping stations and tube wells, which are impossible to replace with gravity systems, but currently are in a very poor condition.
Main and secondary canals with high water losses, collector-drainage system in the Ararat valley, as well as irrigation tertiary systems also need rehabilitation, since accidents may occur any time running the risk for thousands hectares of irrigated lands.
Taking into consideration the abovementioned, about half of the total amount of the Agreement (USD 112 million), signed between US Government Millennium Challenge Corporation and Government of RA, will be directed to solution of main problems of irrigation sphere.
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Quarterly Bulletin #13
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