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Irrigation and drainage

Evolution of irrigation development

The irrigation potential is estimated at 3.2 million ha. In the last century, irrigation was concentrated alongside the rivers and it was only at the beginning of this century that the construction of large irrigation canals started. In 1913, 582 000 ha were irrigated. The most intensive development took place after the Second World War and in 1975 the area equipped for irrigation was 1.17 million ha. By 1995 this had become 1.45 million ha, which is 45 percent of the irrigation potential.

In 1995, the total length of all irrigation canals was 65 900 km, of which only 2 400 km, or 3.6 percent, were concrete canals. National irrigation efficiency was estimated at 55 percent. The largest canals are the Upper Garabakh, the Upper Shirvan and the Samur-Apsheron, all earthen. The Upper Gabarakh canal runs southeast from the Mingacevir reservoir to the Araks River. It is about 174 km long and has a capacity of 113.5 m3/s. About 85 000 ha were irrigated by this canal in 1995. The Upper Shirvan canal also starts from the Mingacevir reservoir and runs east to the Akhsu River. It is about 126 km in length and has a capacity of 78 m3/s and in 1995 irrigated about 91 100 ha.

In 1995, almost 90 percent of the irrigation was surface irrigation, mainly furrow and border strip irrigation. Sprinkler irrigation and localized irrigation were used mainly on perennial plantations and vineyards (Table 4 and Figure 3). Surface water was used on 93 percent of the area, mainly from reservoirs and through direct pumping in rivers and canals (Figure 4). About 96 700 ha were irrigated by groundwater through more than 5 000 wells. Private farmers exploit this source intensively as the major irrigation installations are seriously degraded.

In 1995, small schemes (<10 000 ha) covered 5.3 percent of the total area equipped for irrigation, medium size schemes (10 000ľ20 000 ha) 13.3 percent and large schemes (>20 000 ha) 81.5 percent (Figure 5). Most schemes were state-owned. Farmer-owned irrigation started to appear in 1992 and in 1996 represented 1 percent of the area.

In 2003, the total area equipped for irrigation was about 1 426 000 ha and the power-irrigated area was estimated at 479 249 ha.

Role of irrigation in agricultural production, the economy and society

In 2004, the harvested irrigated area was 1 391 521 ha. Annual crops represent 93 percent of this area and permanent crops 7 percent. The main irrigated crops are wheat (44 percent), barley (11 percent), cotton (5.6 percent) and vegetables (5.6 percent), while the most important permanent crops are tea, bananas, olives, grapes and strawberries (Figure 6).

Status and evolution of drainage systems

The total drainage network covers 608 336 ha, all in the areas equipped for irrigation. In more than half the drained area the installations need to be renovated. In 2003 the area salinized by irrigation was estimated at 635 800 ha (Table 4).


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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