Problems with irrigation and water supply for cotton fields linked to public mismanagement and corruption

Dry fields. Source: tanjaesser/Shutterstock

According to an agriculture specialist, water resources in the country are not used efficiently.

“I planted cotton on 70 hectares. Since water is not given on time, the yield will be low. At least if I could take the cost I incurred, I would repay the debt to the factory. But it looks like I won’t have any profit this season”.

This was told to Meydan TV by one of the farmers from Sabirabad region, who did not want to be named because he works in the state administration. According to him, this year, the increase in the price of fertilizer has seriously affected costs, and the cost of maintaining the fields has raised by around 2-3 times.

Minister: “100,000 hectares of grain crops were destroyed”

In recent years, complaints about irrigation and water shortage have increased in different regions of Azerbaijan. Especially in the regions located on the coast of Kura and Araz, the problem is striking. The water level in both rivers has decreased. Farmers claim that the lack of irrigation water in most fields, including not only cotton, but also grains, created difficulties for them. They could not irrigate the fields when the needed the most, and drought and uneven distribution of rainfall affected directly the productivity.

Minister of Agriculture Inam Karimov also said in an interview to Real TV that due to the severe drought observed in Azerbaijan in January-February of this year, approximately 100,000 hectares of grain crops were destroyed.

Azerbaijan’s water resources are 32 billion cubic meters. 70 percent of it is formed due to water coming from neighboring countries, and 30 percent within the country.

Expert: “The water problem is getting worst”

Agricultural expert Vahid Maharramli told Meydan TV that recently there have been many complaints about irrigation from Saatli, Sabirabad and Sheki regions. In general, problems of irrigation and water in the country are gradually worsening. He affirms that, even though water reservoirs are fuller than last year, dissatisfaction has increased.

According to Maharramli, it became clear that the problem was observed in almost all regions this year:

“The Minister of Agriculture says that 100,000 hectares of grain fields have been destroyed due to drought this year. How does it happen that this year, despite the fact that the water problem is less than last year, the amount of destroyed areas has increased? Because the existing water resource in the country is not properly managed”, he believes.

Muharramli noted that Sheki is one of the areas with the most irrigation problems and, in his vision, water shortage is sometimes caused by negligence:

“For the past two years in Sheki, fields have been irrigated on one side of the road, and fields on the other side have sunk due to drought. It turned out that the water pipes were forgotten when the road was built two years ago. Previously, there was a bridge in the area, and water flowed through the bridge. When the bridge was destroyed, they [the public administration] forgot to draw water. After numerous complaints, they finally found the cause of the problem. However, how many fields have been destroyed by thirst, and people have lost their profits”.

The expert believes that water resources are not used efficiently in the country, and in some cases, the expansion of irrigated areas leads to more water loss.

Officials have been held accountable

The information released by the General Prosecutor’s Office on August 15 states that criminal cases have been initiated against the officials who illegally restricted the supply of irrigation water to land users in the regions.

According to an official statement, in connection of illegal cases identified as a result of the analysis of numerous citizen appeals received by the Prosecutor General’s Office from different regions, the General Anti-Corruption Department of the Prosecutor General has carried out urgent investigative measures.

It is reported that Elchin Ismayil Abbasov, the representative of the head of the Shamkir District Executive Power for the Chinarli settlement administrative territory circle intentionally caused damage to farms. On the basis of the preliminary evidence collected by opening a criminal case related to the mentioned cases, Abbasov was charged with abuse of official authority and repeated bribery, and by the court’s decision, he was placed under arrest.

In addition, a criminal case has been initiated against officials of the Neftchala district Barakat, Garavalli and other water user associations, as well as the Neftchala Irrigation Systems department, for taking money from land users and causing damage to farms for the same actions.

Currently, it is reported that the investigation is being continued in order to determine the exact circle of the accused persons, their accomplices and the victims, as well as the amount of damage caused to farms.

Meloration and Water Management claimedthat the cotton fields were watered on a rotating basis and the irrigation of the surplus fields is about to be completed. Since the beginning of the season, this matter has been taken under control and tasks have been given to the relevant persons of JSC.

It is planned for the next five years to increase the provision of drinking water to the population in Azerbaijan 70 percent to 85 percent, and the provision of irrigation water from 80 percent to 90 percent, according to the 2022-2026 Socio-Economic Development Strategy approved by President Ilham Aliyev. .

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