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No. 13 (229) October 2013


29 September - 1 October 2013, Mardin, Turkey

As of 2011, there are 299 mln ha of irrigated lands and 203 mln ha of drained lands, which accounts for nearly 25 % of all agricultural lands over the world. These lands are of paramount importance especially given that humankind can no way reduce anyhow the number of the starving population below 850 million people, since 1/5 of the total agricultural areas fives over 37 % of all agricultural products of the world, while the other 4/5 yield only 63 %, i.e. less than two thirds. Under changing climate conditions irrigation is a guarantee of sustainable food security. According to FAO, during low-water periods China did not cut the production of irrigated areas, and rain-fed lands lost 30% of their products!!!

In such circumstances, organization of the First Irrigation Forum seems quite sound and appropriate. It is significant that during the past two decades use of new irrigated lands dramatically decreased; but now the area of irrigated lands has increased again up to 2.8 mln ha per year from 2005 to 2011 (+15 mln ha) versus the period from 2000 to 2005, when the growth rate was 1.2 mln ha per year (6 mln ha).

At present ICID is composed of 96 member countries, of which 58 active countries are from Africa, 4 from America, 23 from Asia, and 2 from Europe. The following countries are pioneer in irrigation: India – 62.0 mln ha; China – 60 mln ha; USA – 25 mln ha; Pakistan – 19.4 mln ha; and Iran – 8.9 mln ha.

This Forum was peculiar in that by a decision made by the Executive Committee 63rd meeting a number of non-national corporations became ICID members, except NCID: India Water Foundation, WAPCOS (India), Suyapi Eng (Turkey), Katteki Inst (Japan).

The Forum was organized by ICID and Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry through DSI, state agency for use of water resources in the Mardin city, one of the oldest cities of Mesopotamia, which is currently located at the center of the vast area named GAP – Great Analytical Project.

The Forum gathered 640 people from 65 countries. Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia countries were represented by persons from Georgia, Tajikistan, Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Unfortunately, former ICID members, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, lost touch with ICID. The Tajikistan representative Mr. Kh. Khasanov negotiated with the ICID management concerning the Tajikistan membership renewal in ICID from 1 January 2014.

The Forum did not have the expected form of an open discussion, which usually takes place at a forum, with unplanned exchange of opinions, even may be disputable, controversial, but objective, whole-hearted, which produce not only but also spiritual unity of the people that equally understand their responsibility before humankind and future, as water is not petroleum, but it is future.

Such an attempt as far back as 2002 made John Hennessy at a conference in Oxford, having organized a big discussion in the form of a forum regarding the prospects of irrigation, what role water charge will play in ensuring irrigation sustainability. Nobody prepared speeches. John himself played the part of a moderator, sitting like in Westminister surrounded by all attendants and holding the gavel designed to calm down noisiest spokesmen. And such a free form was indeed a forum: at a forum one must convince. At the Congress and our First Forum, like at common conferences, everyone tried to show oneself and demonstrate one’s works.

The Forum opened in the big hall of the University by an inter-religious music typical of Mardin where Muslims, Christians, Jews, Aramaeans, and Canaanites have lived for ages.

The President of the Turkish NCID Mr. Akif Uzkeldy, DSI Director, and later Mayor of Mardin, welcomed the guests. Then the ICID President Prof. Gao Zhani, IWRA President and WWC Vice-President Prof. Dogan Altynbek, Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and later Minister of Internal Affairs of Turkey Mr. M. Gul, and Minister of Water Resources Mr. Veysel Eroglu spoke before the audience. Construction of the main water delivery canal to Mardin and afforestation of the Atatyurk dam vicinity was demonstrated using teleconference bridge.

Concluding the opening part, President Emeritus Mr. Peter Lee, Chairman of the Jury, announced the decision of the Jury to award the first Irrigation and Drainage Prize to Prof. V.A. Dukhovny and together with the ICID President gave him the Prize.

The following key reports by the Secretary General of ICID Mr. Avinash Tyagi, IWMI Director Mr. Jeremy Bird, Director of WMO Department Mr. Bruce Stewart, Vice-President of ICID Mr. Laurie Tollefson highlighted today’s major challenges of irrigation and drainage and ways to solve those.

Whereas as far back as 1890 an average temperature was 13.67î Ñ, now in 2010 it comes to 14.64î Ñ. In comparison with the period of 1970-1985, when about 2 mln ha of new lands per year were used, investment to irrigation and water management has decreased, and it was not until 2005 that investment grew. Irrigation is increasingly oriented to watering more profitable crops, which allows reducing water consumption.

Irrigation is one of the most important components in the package of measures for adaptation to climate change. A great number of research activities are carried out in the world, but they all are scattered and are not goal-oriented. Irrigation and drainage as well as land reclamation need specific future-oriented researches.

All the works related to new technologies must be coordinated and supported by the government. However, innovations and modern technologies in themselves cannot help solving famine problems: policy, management, organizational structures, financial resources, and direction are needed. Particularly the role of water authorities is prominent; they have to control development, water management process, and provision of water and reclamation services at different levels.

Development and management of irrigated agriculture should take into consideration local conditions as well as social and economic conditions.

The government is the conductor of certain management and policy, but the organizer of this progress from top to downward.

The purpose of reclamation works must be achievement of social, economic, and environmental wellbeing in rural areas.

On the second day, Prof. V.A. Dukhovny took the floor first with the report “We are speaking up for irrigation and drainage”. Then various reports were delivered on the following areas:

  • Policy, science, and interaction with society;
  • Challenges and progress in financing I&D;
  • IWRM approach to ensure sustainable output of agricultural products;
  • Water wisdom and sustainability;
  • Drought and water deficit control strategy;
  • Land, water, and plant control under climate change conditions.

1. Policy, science, and interaction with society

Key theses of the reports:

  • Irrigation remains the main tool to ensure food security on the context of growing water crisis, employment and wellbeing of rural population in developing and economy-in-transition countries;
  • Although irrigated agriculture is at first sight is inferior in direct effect – net income per cubic meter of water – to such water users as hydropower industry, taking into account all associated effects shows that net income rises by 2.5 times and wins by a mile the benefit of the hydropower industry;
  • The existing potential of irrigated agriculture can be kept and augmented provided that growth of water demands will be balanced by the rate of employment of additional water sources especially marginal ones (owing to water purification, desalination, redistribution) and mainly due to improved water productivity and water conservation;
  • It is necessary that any research carried out in favor of I&D should turn into an innovation that is adopted in practice This requires creating an interactive process of creation, introduction, an distribution, which is to become a tool for entrepreneurship providing science and research activities with open communication;
  • Main way to improve the efficiency of agricultural production on irrigated lands reduces to water measurement, reduction of water losses in canals and infields, clear determination of water demand, scheduling of real-time water distribution, selection of proper water supply technology;
  • It is necessary to develop and distribute simple manuals related to all indicated areas by means of trainings and various extension services, as well as demonstrate the best water users’ experience;
  • Internal reservoirs, which in the USA, for instance, are placed at every 20-40 ha, serve as an important element for reducing losses in canals and improving the water supply system;
  • Involvement of end land and water users in the decision-making process is vital for modernization and improvement of irrigation network;
  • Application of up-to-date systems must be in conformance with local relationship, including harmony between a human given and God, between a human being and nature, between people (as exemplified by the water use system on Bali named “Suban irrigation”);
  • When improving the management of irrigation systems, main emphasis should be made on strengthening the interaction between regional water organizations and WUAs, where, as the experience of “intensive large-scale interaction” in the years of 2009-2012 shows, water use rate can easily rise by 5-10 %;
  • Turkey demonstrates wide experience in the transfer of the systems of open canals with furrow irrigation to closed delivery canal systems.

The Lower Gediz system was designed for open canals in 1960, and currently it is changed for a centralized pressure pipe system with distribution through polyethylene pipelines 150-200 mm in diameter with pumping feeding.

A similar system is installed on the South-East Anatolia land mass where the network is temporarily supplied with water by pumping stations that take water from deep (to 300 m) groundwater resources. After much amount of water comes from the Atatyurk dam, the pumping stations will be reequipped for water withdrawal from pipelines of big diameter of 1.5 along with keeping the distribution and sprinkling network.

The reconstruction cost amounts to 10 ths USD per ha plus considerable operation costs – over 300 $/ha.

Turkish colleagues explain such heavy expenditures by the necessity to get involved a large part of growing rural population:

  • Drip irrigation systems are increasingly covering more areas of irrigated lands worldwide: 10.8 mln ha versus 43.2 mln ha under sprinkling. India is the pioneer: microirrigation area here comes to 1.9 mln ha; in China– 1.67 mln ha; in Spain – 1.66 mln ha; in the USA – 1.64 mln ha; in Italy – 570 ths ha. The program (APMIP) of the Andhra Pradesh state of India adopted in 2003 is a good case of successful microirrigation development: it aimed at equipping state’s irrigation areas of 962 ths ha with three million pumping units for 7 years by providing electrification. The investments made by the government made it possible to cover 640 thousand farmers in the state. The project allowed producing additional products to the amount of 300 mln USD per year and saving water of 4 bln m3 per year. In Africa, in particular in Zambia and Burkina Faso, low-cost focal drip irrigation systems worth of at most 1000 $/ha, which are composed of a reservoir (tank), set of tubular distributors and watering pipes connected into a “microirrigation kit” that supplied water to 0.04 … 0.1 ha. Usually the tank is filled by means of irrigating machines or pumping systems, or from wells. However in India they began installing low-capacity solar-powered pumps on such systems.
  • Occurrence of serious problems associated with changes in the social situation in rural areas is highlighted in the reports by Japan and India representatives. In Japan, water management based on high-tech standards is performed by public and private organizations that unite farming water users. However, rural depopulation, village urbanization, and increase in the number of non-agricultural land users in rural areas cause changes in the particular characteristics of water users – WUA members. This reduces the possibility of receiving funds for sustainable existence of these systems. The Andhra Pradesh state case study shows that some WUAs have lost up to 70% of their irrigated lands, which dramatically complicated their activities. Both countries have adopted a regulation obligating new land users to make agreements with WUAs which will take care of their (users’) capital resources.

2. Challenges and progress in financing irrigation and drainage

Key theses of the reports:

  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development that has financed the Turkish irrigation system since 1985 noted great aggregate effect of irrigation as well as considerable social effect. Nevertheless, it mentioned a number of drawbacks such as lag of land development behind construction, weak farmers’ sense of responsibility, high cost of pumping supply, poor planning, fluctuation of product prices.
  • Annual irrigation growth was limited within 0.5 % against 1.5 % in 1960 because of reduced financial investment by international financial institutions; the need for raising financial investments in whole and particularly to irrigation as well as to African countries was underlined.
  • Having expanded its irrigated areas for the last 15 years, Turkey however failed to meet growing irrigation systems’ requirements for operating costs. This has an affect on the sustainability of developed irrigation systems; the cost of irrigation systems without dams in Turkey is 4500 $/ha for drip irrigation; 3000 $/ha for sprinkling; and 1000 $/ha for furrow irrigation. Irrigation service charge should be raised within 5-8 years in order to achieve sustainability of reclamation systems;
  • The majority of the irrigation systems built during the period from 1980 to 2000 requires immediate capital investments to ensure their efficient performance, as their obsolescence process runs much faster than their restoration.

3. IWRM approaches to sustainable food production

Key theses of the reports:

  • IWRM (W. Wlotman) in brief consists in the combination of the relationship "water – food – energy for green economy", taking into account all the links between and around them. However more efficient use of all the resources will be ensured if this chain focuses on controlling all kinds of losses. Nowadays, food product loses are equivalent to 1380 km3 of water per year, which costs 252 bln USD;
  • Employment of drainage water implies considerable potential of growing crops such as kapola, mustard, coral beans, and partly cotton;
  • Salinity still remains a huge problem for irrigated lands in arid and semiarid areas as shown by the example of India where out of 60 mln ha 8 mln ha are subject to this effect. Advanced closed drainage systems are a must of IWRM and guarantee for land productivity. In India, some part of drainage costs is covered by farmers;
  • Australia pioneered the combination of IWRM with water market. It rests on water right separate from land right. The experience of the Murray-Darling basin illustrates that this approach is oriented to enhancement of water productivity and economic growth of farms;
  • Integrated ground and surface water utilization is widely used in the Nile delta, where under water shortage conditions up to 70 % of farmers apply this method;
  • Building of online database is essential for successful development of IWRM in any irrigation system, resting on improving water accounting, more efficient reduction in water consumption, and control over water distribution according to needs.

Os special note are the following technical achievements and trends:

  • Determination of canal flow rate and losses in canals allowing for their silting by using the Doppler system;
  • ICT-based technologies are gaining ground for climate, water and development of plant (Africa, Egypt, Sudan, Mali). This is exemplified by Fruit 7 Look in Zambia where continuous monitoring is carried out over nine garden development indicators by means of remote images;
  • Introduction of new design of Unifarm-system mobile sprinklers made by SIME Idromechanica having moistening uniformity of 75-90%. Potential water saving comes to 15 %;
  • Extending use of SCADA;
  • Rise in use of closed pipelines.

Meetings of all ICID working groups were held in addition to various events within the Forum.

The “Irrigation & Drainage in Economy-In-Transition Countries” Working Group (headed by (Prof. P. Kovalenko and Prof. V.A. Dukhovny) considered that issue in post-Soviet countries.

It was noted that along with the central Asian countries successfully developing in this area, all Eastern Europe countries, Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan made significant cut of irrigated areas, by 11 mln ha in whole, unparticular over 3 mln ha in Romania, 2.5 mln ha in Russia, and more than 1 mln ha in Ukraine and Kazakhstan each.

At the same time, progress in Ukraine, sizeable reduction of water diversion in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, IWRM implementation in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are outlined.

It was proposed to popularize the experience of irrigation and drainage transformation in economy-in-transition countries by issuing a special monograph named “Irrigation & Drainage in Economy-In-Transition Countries: achievements and challenges”.

The Strategy Committee and later ICID EC supported this proposal.

ICID EC reviewed the annual results and made a series of decisions. One of those focuses on the need for more active involvement of young specialists to the ICID activity.

The IC also decided on holding the 2nd World Irrigation & Drainage Forum in the Chiang Mai city, Thailand, in 2016.

The IC elected three new vice-presidents:

  • Dr. Basuki Hadimoeljono from Indonesia;
  • Dr. Kadhim Mohsin Ahmed from Iraq;
  • A.V. Pandia from India.

That was the first time the elections were non-alternative to all the three candidates from Asia.

The IC paid the tribute to the memory of an outstanding leader in irrigation and drainage, Honorary President of ICID Mr. Ali Shadi, who contributed greatly to the development and strengthening of ICID position in the world water community.

The report by the Secretary General of ICID Mr. Avinash Tyagi regarding new type of servicing introduced by the ICID headquarters aroused much interest.

  • The new ICID website is open since February 2013; it includes also several thematic areas: irrigation, drainage, flood control, climate change and irrigation systems, drought control, etc.
  • The website includes a few resources, such as basic model of IWRM (BHIWA), Podium (political dialogue model); WEAP model, Saltmed model, and a multilingual dictionary.
  • Integrated library system (IGMS), which contains all ICID publications from 1950 onwards.

Director of SIC ICWC
Prof. V.A. Dukhovny