On April 18, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev held a meeting to discuss projects in the water management sector.

The discussion centred around four primary challenges in water management — canal water losses, elevated energy consumption by pumping stations, constrained water reserves, and inadequate adoption of water-saving technologies.

As reported by “Uzbekistan 24” TV channel, irrigation for one hectare of crops utilizes 10,700 cubic meters of water, while in developed nations, the consumption ranges between 6,000 and 7,000 cubic meters.

The president’s press service highlighted that due to inefficient canals and significant water losses in domestic networks, the agriculture sector incurs an annual loss of $4.8 billion.

In light of these concerns, an experimental pipeline irrigation system is planned for introduction in the Pakhtakor district of the Jizzakh region. The President directed Agrobank Chairman Rustam Mamatkulov to secure 10 billion soums to fund the project’s scientific backing.

Upon considering the project initiator’s suggestions, the President endorsed the initiative and emphasized the necessity of similar undertakings in Kashkadarya, Namangan, and Syrdarya regions, where water supply costs are at the highest.

He instructed the development of a two-year program for the deployment of a “closed” pipeline irrigation system, incorporating a scientific approach to minimize costs within the project’s scope.

Water is delivered to distant fields through pumping stations, most of which are outdated and consume substantial amounts of energy. The meeting revealed that none of the major pumping stations have transitioned to alternative energy sources, despite receiving annual subsidies of 5.7 trillion soums (approximately $500 million) for powering them.

Numerous entrepreneurs express interest, but their promising projects fail to materialize due to the absence of explicit terms and conditions. Consequently, significant budgetary funds are allocated to power the pumps.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev instructed Minister of Water Resources Shavkat Khamraev and regional hokims to transfer 300 pumping stations to entrepreneurs through private-partnership agreements and to implement alternative energy sources. Researchers from the Tashkent Irrigation Institute will participate, and Agrobank will provide loans with favourable terms for effective projects.

Annually, 1 billion cubic meters of mudflow are rendered unusable, according to the President’s statement.

“If we learn to accumulate mudflow in small reservoirs, we can irrigate an additional 100,000 hectares of land and improve water supply for 500,000 hectares. Entrepreneurs have put forward initiatives to create a reserve of 150 million cubic metres of water in 18 regions where there is potential for water accumulation,” he said.

Plans are underway to secure $100 million for these projects. Land that becomes usable due to the irrigation of stored water will be provided to the entrepreneurs responsible for creating the reservoirs for long-term, free use.

Currently, laser technologies are employed to level 450,000 hectares, or 15% of the irrigated area. By doubling these areas, an additional 900 million cubic meters of water can be conserved, improving water supply for an extra 200,000 hectares.

In relation to this, 1,000 laser levellers (optical devices for land marking) are scheduled for delivery in 2023, enabling clusters to establish laser levelling services for farmers.

In recent years, drip and sprinkler irrigation technologies have been implemented across 400,000 hectares, with an additional 80,000 hectares commencing this year.

Following a decree signed on April 1st, the subsidy per hectare for cereal and vegetable fields adopting water-saving systems has been raised from 1 million soums to 8 million soums in order to incentivize the adoption of these technologies. Furthermore, the bank credit rate for farmers has been set at 17%.

The importance of extending these opportunities to farmers and providing financial support was emphasized. A goal was established to create a dedicated centre for the development of new water-saving projects under “Agrobank” and to recruit skilled specialists from overseas.