Management of water resources in agriculture in Turkey
Dr. Nüvit SOYLU
Availability of water is a crucial factor for agricultural growth. Efficient management of water resources has very high returns, not only in terms of increasing the productive capacity of the agricultural sector, but also in reducing pressures on the environment from agriculture. It is estimated that irrigation increases per capitaGDP in agriculture by approximately 5-6 times (DSI, 2009a). However, by the end of 2013, only 62% (5.8 million ha) of irrigated land was irrigated .Overall, compared with many OECD countries, pressures on water quality from farming are low, although agricultural pollution of water bodies from nutrients is a concern in some irrigated areas .
Irrigated agriculture currently consumes about 75% of total water consumption, which is about 30% of renewable water availability. Half of the crop production in Turkey relies on irrigation. Most of the irrigation water (80%) is derived from surface sources. Approximately 90% of the total irrigated area is irrigated by using surface irrigation methods, such as furrowing. The remaining 10% is irrigated by pressurised irrigation systems, such as sprinklers and drip emitters.
The operation and management responsibilities of irrigation schemes have been gradually transferred from the General Directorate of State Hydraulic works (DSI) − the central water agency in Turkey − to self-financing local water-user organisations, such as village administrations, municipalities and co-operatives. Approximately 96% of all irrigation schemes are now operated and maintained by water-user organisations, and only 4% by the DSI (compared with 95% by the DSI in 1993).
These changes were important steps forward in making efficiency improvements in the use of scarce water resources.But it didin't work as expected . “İrrigation and Water Resource with a Focus on Irrıgation Prioritasition and Managament” Report prepared by World Bank in 2006 admitted that " Admirable transfer of the irrigation scheems to farmers might be earlier ,faster and larger then normal and acceptable process.
Therefore even they expected reduce the burden of the operational and maintenance costs of the government, and increase water prices and collection rates couldn't be achived.
Pricing is differentiated according to the crop and is charged on per-hectare basis. There is almost no volumetric system for irrigation, whereas volumetric charges are common in domestic and industrial water-use.
More radical changes in water management policies are needed
Radical changes in water management policies are needed while only 42% of Turkey’s available exploitable water potential was consumed in 2013, water use could reach the maximum exploitable level by 2023 .The combination of expanding urbanisation, unfavourable global climatic conditions and increasing agricultural production will result in increased total water requirements and give rise to sectoral competition for water resources. These pressures will entail the need to make major changes to water policies in both the medium and the long term, and, as the consumer of approximately two-thirds of the country’s water resources, agriculture will be required to assume a significant share of the burden.
A more efficient use of water resources in agriculture would require implementation of policies on several fronts.But farmers socio-economical condiditons must also be considered. On pricing, for example, determination of irrigation fees should be proportional to income and other expenditure of farmers. Especially strenghteen of the water users organistaions structural and operational abilities would bring more efficient use of irrigation water.
Irrigation management practices to restrict water losses from the irrigation infrastructure, particularly in areas of high evaporation, need to be improved. Training farmers to adopt crop-soil-water management is of the utmost importance. It has been estimated that if sprinkler and drip irrigation methods were utilised, in place of traditional methods, farm efficiency would increase by 20% and 30%, respectively . For large-scale irrigation projects, such as the GAP (which covers 1.8 million ha, or 20% of the total irrigable arable land in Turkey), in addition to ensuring adequate financing, care should also be taken to address the consequent environmental impacts.
In the field of legislation, the legal framework needs to be strengthened. Several pieces of legislation and regulations have been created to address specific issues, but they do not form an integrated framework for the effective management of water resources. The existing laws and regulations do not provide a definition of water rights. For example, extended periods of drought resulted in the full deployment of water resources in the western and central regions, involving the transfer of water from irrigation to domestic and industrial use .The legislative arrangements should include and give priority to participatory management and eater users organisations.
Source : OECD (2011), Evaluation of Agricultural Policy Reforms in Turkey, OECD Publishing.http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264113220-en