What are the problems in the field of agriculture in Armenia today and what are the main reasons for not cultivating agricultural lands? These and other issues were addressed by the President of "National Water Cooperation" Scientific and Ecological NGO Arevik Hovsepyan during the expert round table on "Food Security and Climate Change" held on April 13 at EcoLur Press Club.
“There are several main reasons for not cultivating agricultural land areas. First, people received quite small land areas in different categories and different sectors during the privatization process. The villagers mainly cultivate high-end land areas, orchards, which give good crops, whereas remote areas are not cultivated because people do not have the opportunity to go and cultivate. Where there is no income, the land remains uncultivated. More than 50% of our lands are not cultivated, as a result of which many cultivated lands are degraded, the quality of lands deteriorates, the land becomes unfit for cultivation," she said.
According to Arevik Hovsepyan, the next possible reason for not cultivating the lands is the lack of irrigation water. According to the study conducted by “National Water Cooperation” NGO, drinking water in 29 communities in 7 regions of Armenia is used to irrigate neighborhoods due to the lack of irrigation water. "We use our high-quality water for irrigation, while in some communities of Armenia there is no drinking water at all. Why is that? The reason is that drinking water is not registered in those communities, meters are not installed, people do not pay for water, they use it for irrigation. Such a problem exists in almost all settlements of Armenia," Arevik Hovsepyan said.
According to the speaker, the lack of irrigation water quality norms in Armenia is problematic from this point of view. "Irrigation is carried out with any water, from the cleanest spring water to the water coming out of the sewer. As a result, we have poor-quality food. The entire fruits and vegetables of the Ararat Valley are irrigated with the water of the Hrazdan River, where the untreated wastewater from Yerevan Aeration is discharged. We do not have a complete sewage treatment plant anywhere. Sewage is discharged into rivers and used for irrigation. Attention should be paid to this issue.
Armenia needs clean water for irrigation. "Today we do not have norms for the quality of irrigation water, but if we set them, we will not have irrigation water that meets those norms," he said.
The speaker noted that the problem of irrigation water in Armenia has a great impact on food security. "If we take into account that water is one of the most vulnerable resources due to climate change, in recent years in many communities, particularly in seven communities of Tavush Region, the amount of water in springs has sharply decreased, then the impact of climate change is already visible.
Due to the lack of water in the springs, the water of the rivers decreased. And here the problem of water resources arises. Even if we can store the water generated during spring and autumn floods, we can use that water when there is a shortage of irrigation water," Arevik Hovsepyan said.
One of the problems in the field of irrigation water is leakage. "We have a lot of soil irrigation systems. Irrigation water is brought from far away, irrigation water is not met, meters are not installed so that people know how much water they have used. The amount of water used is mainly calculated according to the irrigation norms of the given crop. In other words, the amount of water used for a given crop is paid according to those norms,” she said.
The speaker mentioned that we also have a problem with the management of the agricultural sector. "We have super-normative lands where the farmer wants to cultivate a crop that requires ten times more water. There is no regulation on what lands to grow and how to cultivate," she said.
Arevik Hovsepyan touched upon the issues of irrigation water management. "The distribution of irrigation water in Armenia is regulated by water user companies (WUCs), the establishment of which has pursued progressive goals. The WUC should be a participatory management tool, able to properly manage the irrigation water distribution process. However, WUCs faced problems related to the operation of irrigation systems: low level of collection, unequal distribution of water, financial instability, low level of management experience and skills, corruption, etc. In recent years, WUCs seem to have 'given up' on participatory governance; they are governed by TAI Water Committee," she said.
May 04, 2021 at 16:44