Kurdistan's water and agriculture issues
Text and pictures by Tooba Moshiri, Iran
Kurdistan is surrounded by mountains and its climate is affected by hot and humid Mediterranean air masses that cause rainfall in spring and snowfall in winter. The annual rainfall in normal climatic conditions is equal to 455 mm and the highest annual rainfall is related to the cities of Marivan and Baneh with about 800 mm and the lowest rainfall in the east of the province is about 400 mm and in the central part of Sanandaj is close to 500 mm.
However, there is less and less rainfall with each passing year and many parts of Kurdistan is now facing draught like then rest of Iran.
In the foothills of the Zagros and the villages around the city of Marivan, the farther the agricultural land is from Lake Zarivar, the greater the share of this year's drought. Wells as deep as 30 meters have dried up, and people are digging wells twice as deep as before to reach the water.Drilling these wells also requires permits, which are often not issued in many areas.
This year, not only precipitation and snow reserves in mountainous areas and the volume of water in dams has lessened, but also the heat has settled in different areas earlier than last year.
Erfan Momenpour, Deputy Minister of Protection and Usage of Kurdistan Regional Water Company, states in this regard:"Considering the drastic decrease in the underwater reserves of the eastern part of the continent, those applications that are requesting drilling for agricultural purposes will be declined. Only some industrial applicants will be accepted."
Relative officials, claim that the current most important challenges of water resources in the Kurdistan regional water company are; water economy and related issues, low tariffs on water delivered in various sectors of agriculture, industry and drinking, inability to receive revenue sources, lack of transparent legal and judicial laws on the topic of water resources and the lack of attention to controlling water pollution in the outskirts of the reservoirs of dams of the province.
Excessive use and consumption of groundwater, the possibility of not amending the laws, the operation of dams without having environmental assessment studies, and the need to strengthen interaction and coordination between industry, academia and executive bodies are other excuses raised by local authorities.
Water problems, however, do not only affect the region's farmers.Many ranchers, who have old jobs in the Kurdistan region, also complain about this situation.Haj Kak Hassan is a shepherd who has been grazing livestock in the foothills of the Zagros for more than 40 years. In this regard, he says:
"Our sheep are getting thinner and we have to travel longer distances every day in search of food. Many cows are less lactating, and all of this is affecting the region's economy, which is trying to maintain its independence, and making everything more expensive."
The huge rivers of the province and the springs that no one would ever think of drying up no longer have water to feed plants and animals;Drought is an insedeous killer that brutally takes the life living beings one after another.
As we approach the end of summer, the effects of the drought are even more pronounced. Drought in the first step by affecting the germination and growth of rangeland and forest plant species that form the first link in the food chain, reduces the diversity and density of vegetation and the subsequent links of the chain due to complete dependence on the first link will suffer greatly.
According to the statistics of the Deputy of Planning and Economic Affairs of the Agriculture Organization of Kurdistan Province, the estimated amount of damage caused by drought in the province was 6,700 billion Tomans and said: "This is while the total damage of other provinces is 67,000 billion Tomans." It has been estimated that Kurdistan accounts for about 10% of the country's damage.
In the past, about 14,000 hectares of potatoes were cultivated in the eastern plains of the province, and now this amount has been reduced to 7,000 hectares.
Ershad Fallah, a member of the Agriculture Organization of Kurdistan Province, criticized Kurdistan Province for running cultivation tasks instead of cultivation patterns: "The lack of water in the eastern plains are dire, and the way we tend to these cultivation tasks must change, and the agricultural organzation should be more resistant to these tasks and instead of insisting on maintaining agriculture in this region, it should move towards water-scarce industries by attracting large investors."
Emphasizing that the challenges of agriculture in these areas must be addressed with proper management, Fallah said that the organization's actions to deal with the drought crisis in line with the province's water shortage adaptation program, many programs, including the development of pressurized irrigation systems, Traditional atmospheres into canals, canal reconstruction and piping in orchards have been carried out, in addition to promoting the cultivation of early cultivars, implementation of micro-irrigation, development of greenhouse cultivation, development of conservation agriculture, conversion of 100,000 hectares of rainfed lands into irrigation and development of orchards has also been one of the important programs of the Agriculture Organization in Kurdistan in order to deal with water shortage in the province.
Professor of Agricultural Economics at Kurdistan University, Hamed Qaderzadeh believes that if we want to improve the situation of water and soil management and other sectors, we need to change.He reminded that earning money is the goal of exploiting water and soil resources, and reminded that in order to move in the right direction, the goal of using these resources must also be considered.
Mr. Qaderzadeh continues: "Improper consumption of water resources is a national harm, so ways to reduce consumption must be identified, but until the cost of agricultural production is not taken into account, high water consumption can not be prevented."