It seems that the state is seriously concerned with the problem this year – it has proposed to introduce a ban on drilling new wells for irrigation in regions where the groundwater level has decreased by 5 meters or more, i.e. in Navoi, Samarkand, Jizzakh, Kashkadarya, Namangan, Fergana, and Andijan regions. Just yesterday, a decision was published on the website of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan on the mandatory equipping of water meters for all users of groundwater – it means for all fruit and vegetable growers who water their plantations from wells.
It is possible that the next step may be to stimulate the rational use of Uzbekistan’s water resources through the cost of water for users, although nothing has been said about this in the statements of official bodies so far.
According to industry experts, if taken, the decision would be quite justified, and could even benefit the horticulture of Uzbekistan. According to Andriy Yarmak, an economist at the Investment Center of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the introduction of reasonable payment for water and an increase in its cost would help Uzbek farmers pay attention to product quality because with rising costs, there is a need to increase revenue per hectare.
“The low quality of fruits from the point of view of importers is the main obstacle to entering markets outside the CIS, where you can get a much higher price for high-quality fresh fruits. Uzbekistan cannot afford to grow cheap fruits, because it is too far from the markets, transportation takes the main part of the price, and farmers are left with a pittance. Therefore, the right strategy for horticulture in Uzbekistan is to focus on growing and exporting high-quality fruits for sale at a high price to reliable and stable markets,” explains Andriy Yarmak.
“I want to emphasize again that Uzbekistan has huge reserves to improve the efficiency of water use even without the need to drill new wells! The least effective and oldest known method of furrow irrigation is still widely used there, in which the main volume of water is wasted. At the same time, I often see growers in Uzbekistan letting water through the furrows in the orchards, although they have irrigation installed, and saying that the water is free. Therefore, the solution to the problem seems obvious in this case. By the way, I would like to draw the attention of Uzbek farmers to underground drip irrigation – a promising technology that can radically and for the better change the entire agriculture of the country, and not just horticulture and vegetable growing,” the FAO economist says.
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