Practical Ways of Improving Irrigation in Karakalpakstan

Farmers practice using laser levelling equipment in Karakalpakstan
UNDP in Uzbekistan: Simple technology such as laser levelling offers a practical, low-maintenance and adaptable means of improving the quality of land

Ensuring self-sufficient, environmentally-appropriate and productive agriculture in areas of degraded land, such as that in the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, requires sustainable irrigation practices. Introducing tried-and-tested laser levelling techniques can help ensure that limited irrigation water is used as effectively as possible, obtaining the best possible outputs while guaranteeing the land’s continued fertility.

78 farmers from Karakalpakstan’s Kanlikul, Shumanay and Muynak districts have been trained in the use of laser equipment to ensure that their fields are as level as possible, aiding the equal distribution of irrigation water and allowing for a higher degree of agricultural output. This event was organised by the UN Joint Programme ‘Sustaining Livelihoods Affected by the Aral Sea Disaster’.

Highlight

  • The use of laser levelling in Khorezm has saved 20 to 25 per cent of water while increasing fertility by 5 to 10 per cent.

The event included both an introductory workshop when the benefits of using the laser levelling technique were highlighted, and a practical session when the participating farmers learnt to prepare land for laser levelling, familiarised themselves with the technology, practiced measuring the relief of fields, and put the methods involved in laser levelling into practice.

To ensure these skills are best used, the UN Joint Programme has also procured 6 sets of laser levelling equipment to 6 farming enterprises in the Kanlikul and Shumanay districts, as selected by the Council of Farmers of Karakalpakstan. Each of these recipients have agreed to share the technology with other farmers, while 6 additional sets have been provided to 6 southern districts of Karakalpakstan.

The use of effective irrigation methods on agricultural land has played a crucial role in supporting Uzbekistan’s economy and the well-being of its population. According to the Khorezm Rural Advisory Support Service (KRASS), irrigated farming provides 90 per cent of Uzbekistan’s gross agricultural production.

An on-going water shortage remains one of the most pressing issues in Karakalpakstan, where the Aral Sea environmental crisis and high land salinity have threated irrigation and agricultural output. In addition to climatic and environmental factors, this shortage has been caused by the inefficient use of water by farmers and dekhkans, meaning that new, effective and accessible water-saving technologies are needed.

The training course was organised by the UN Joint Programme ‘Sustaining livelihoods affected by the Aral Sea disaster’, implemented jointly by five UN agencies in Uzbekistan including UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, WHO and UNV, in cooperation with the Government of Uzbekistan and the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. The Joint Programme has been financed by the UN Human Security Trust Fund.

The initiative to introduce land laser levelling equipment in Karakalpakstan has been conducted in partnership with Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme, KRASS, and the Council of Farmers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan.