Water Woes: Azerbaijan’s Agricultural Sector Struggles with Irrigation Issues

Photo: Meydan TV

A longstanding issue of irrigation system deficiencies and water scarcity continues in Azerbaijan, particularly affecting residents in the Aran region during the spring and summer months.

Allahveran Allahveranov, a farmer from Kurdamir, told Meydan TV that they had to forego planting melons and vegetables due to water scarcity, a problem exacerbating year by year.

Reflecting on the dire situation, a local farmer, managing 15 hectares of cultivated land, lamented the declining area under cultivation due to escalating drought conditions. He highlighted the contrast between the water-intensive nature of certain crops like melons, requiring frequent irrigation, and less demanding options like grain crops.

One contributing factor to water loss is the disrepair of concrete canals in villages, neglected over time. This neglect has resulted in significant water wastage through uncontrolled irrigation practices, leading to soil salinization and reduced arable land.

Moreover, access to modern irrigation systems remains elusive for both small-scale farmers and larger agricultural enterprises. Challenges include the high cost of installation, with government subsidies often falling short of making these systems accessible. The disparity in resource allocation favors larger companies, leaving small farmers grappling with water shortages and diminished yields.

In Kurdamir, resident Elkhan Usubov faced similar challenges, grappling with irrigation woes on his 4-hectare farm. The intermittent water supply and exorbitant costs emphasize the systemic issues plaguing water management in rural areas.

The struggle for adequate water resources extends beyond Kurdamir to other regions like Sovla and Soyudler, where shared land irrigation exacerbates disparities in water access. The reliance on outdated infrastructure and intermittent water supply disrupts agricultural productivity, adversely impacting livelihoods.

Despite efforts to mitigate agricultural risks through insurance schemes, severe drought continues to afflict large swathes of farmland. The absence of comprehensive agrarian insurance exacerbates the plight of farmers, leaving them vulnerable to the whims of nature.

Experts advocate for urgent reforms in water management, emphasizing the need for modernizing irrigation infrastructure and expanding coverage to mitigate water losses. Recommendations include enhancing reservoir capacity, desilting existing water bodies, and promoting the adoption of modern irrigation systems across a wider agricultural landscape.

Economist Akif Nasirli underscores the importance of government intervention to alleviate the financial burden on farmers and facilitate the widespread adoption of modern irrigation technologies. He urges policymakers to prioritize agricultural development, allocating adequate resources to address water scarcity and promote sustainable farming practices.

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