Drought in Serbia: Estimated damage and possible solutions

Because of the catastrophic drought that has hit Serbia, the maize, soy and sugar beet yield will drop by up to 60% compared to last year’s, with the damages estimated at over 500 million EUR.

As always, when the drought hits, the Serbian farmers are wondering when is the state going to start taking irrigation seriously.

Agricultural economist, Milan Prostran says that only 100,000 hectares of land is covered by irrigation systems out of a total of 2 million hectares.

“I do hope that, in the next ten years, we are going to have at least 500,000 hectares irrigated which is a bare minimum in order to have everything functioning properly”, Prostran says.

According to him, close to 3 billion EUR is needed to provide irrigation for all 2 million hectares of arable land in Serbia. “Nobody has such a lot of money, and even if we did have it, you have to bear in mind that irrigation does rinse out the land and it disrupts its structure so farmers have to add manure. Considering that the number of the heads of cattle in Serbia was reduced to 800,000, we don’t have enough manure. Just irrigating the land would severely reduce its fertility”, Prostran warns.

He adds that the best thing to do would be for the state to consult the experts and find the cheapest and the quickest solution to the problem.

“Until we find 500 or 600 million EUR for irrigation system for 500,000 hectares of land, we have to change the level of awareness about agriculture. The most affordable solution that would mitigate the horrible consequences of the drought would be deep plowing which preserves land moisture, and to plant early hybrids that grow to their maturity in spring”, Prostran underlines.

The Serbian Agriculture Minister, Branislav Nedimovic said that the works on building four irrigation systems in Vojvodina had started two days ago, and that seven such construction sites would have been opened in Serbia by the end of August.

“We have three ongoing irrigation projects in Banat, and one in Backa County. We are preparing three more projects in Central Serbia at the moment. Our intention is to install irrigation systems on almost 30,000 hectares of land”, Nedimovic says.

(Blic, 09.08.2017)



This post is also available in: Italiano

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