Only 38 centralized irrigation stations function in the Republic of Moldova, which is an agrarian country that is more often affected by drought. Ten of these were built with funds provided by the U.S. The annually irrigated area of about 60,000 ha is only a small part of the farmland that is 2 million ha in area in Moldova, IPN reports, with reference to RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service.
According to Moldova’s Water Agency, the Republic of Moldova from the Soviet period inherited 78 centralized irrigation systems. After the USSR collapsed and kolkhozes were dismembered, 60% of these were abandoned and were in time sold by piece as scarp iron. It happened so to the station in Ștefan Vodă district, which was one of the worst hit by drought this year. Valeriu Belotkach from Copceac village showed his cherry orchard that went yellow before time, with small and dry fruit. The farmer said that owing to drought, his annually harvest is lower. His land is situated 40 km from the Nistru, but the water does not get up to there.
In the 1980s, a modern for that period irrigation system was built in Ștefan Vodă district and this irrigates about 23,000 ha. “In the middle of the 1990s, when chaos entered the country, the system was stopped on the pretext that its utilization was too costly and it started to be dismembered,” related the head of Ștefan Vodă district Vasile Maxim. According to him, a solution is for the state to invest in the building of aqueducts from the Nistru up to the intersection with the road to Căușeni. “From there, we can bring water without this needing to be pumped through tens of kilometers. Later, business entities can invest in the renovation of irrigation stations,” explained Vasile Maxim.
A part of the old systems still work. Several farmers from Varnița village of Anenii Noi district combined forces and managed to save their crops from drought after restoring the local irrigation system that dates from 1969. The head of the local Water Users Association Dorin Jardetski said that he fought against bureaucracy for the system to be transmitted from the state under the management of their sssociation. Then, the farmers obtained US$250,000 from the Sustainable Development Fund and repaired a part of the installations. Currently, the irrigation system that pumps water from the Nistru annually supplies water to at most 400 ha.
Another ten irrigation systems were built through the U.S.-funded program “Compact”. The largest of these is in Cahul district and this irrigates 2,700 ha of farmland with water from the Prut. It was inaugurated in 2015. “We are the only association that has an irrigation system and also a drainage system as we are in an area that is exposed to the risk of flooding. It is an opportunity for farmers as high temperatures and drought persist now in the Republic of Moldova,” said the accountant of the Water Users Association “Chircani-Zârnești” Svetlana Argint.
The ten new systems cost US$80,000 and supply water to about 13,000 ha of farmland.