Dam Kalimanci is half-empty
Over 2,000 rice producers in limbo. HPS Bregalnica has reduced irrigation areas
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Reduction of areas, delay of the irrigation plan and uncertainty until the end of the irrigation season stalks farmers of Eastern Macedonia waiting for water from the hydro system Bregalnica.
Sane Jovanov, rice producer from the Kocani village Cheshinovo, says the fact that the irrigation plan was adopted late and the delayed release of water can have serious consequences on the quality of rice.
“Last year, because of the delay in the irrigation season, rice areas were covered with frost, reducing the quality of rice. We had 15% quality rice, and when everything is on time, we had 50%, even 60%”, complains Jovanov.
He emphasizes that HPS Bregalnica initially promised water release on April 7, but until recently neither the irrigation plan was adopted, nor water was released on April 7.
The delay in the irrigation season can be one of the reasons for poor harvest, says agronomist Aleksandar Donev who is also president of the Rice Cluster.
“Rice has 150 days of vegetation. The delay in sowing will postpone the harvest in October. If there is rainfall in October or frost falls, then it can affect the quality of rice”, says Donev.
He adds that this year the poor hydrological conditions have also affected early irrigation season, and if sowing ends up by 20th May and if farmers are lucky enough, there can be some results.
Little rain and small amounts of accumulated water are the main reason for the delay in the irrigation season and area reductions. The director of this company, Zoran Belichev, says that in the dam Kalimanci there is only a half of the planned amount of accumulated water.
“The areas for irrigation in the entire hydro system Bregalnica have been reduced from 7,200 hectares irrigated last year to 5,800 hectares. While the area under rice has been reduced from over 4,000 hectares in 2013 to 2,800 hectares this year”, says Belichev.
Hydro system Bregalnica has the capacity for accumulation of 120 million cubic meters of water, and so far only 70 million have been accumulated. Of these 70 million, from 10 to 15 million cubic meters of water cannot be used.
This irrigation system was constructed in 1968 in order to irrigate about 30,000 hectares of arable land in the region of Kocani, Stip and Ovce Pole.
Water from the hydro-power plant Bregalnica is of great importance for over 15,000 people in Eastern Macedonia.