Feature: China builds reservoirs, canals to help Kyrgyz farmers irrigate land

Updated: May 9, 2023 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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BISHKEK, May 9 (Xinhua) -- Many villagers in Kara-Oi in the Issyk-Kul region on the northern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan, make a living by working in the fields.

Local farmer Evgeny Yakovlev has been growing crops in the past 15 years. On his four hectares of land, he has planted about 1,000 cherry, apple and pear trees. Perennial plants like clover and barley also flourish there.

During the summer season, Yakovlev needs to water his field at least three times a day, needing a lot of water. The old irrigation system built back during the times of the former Soviet Union has long been unable to cope with the needs of local farmers.

"Water is not enough. Constant queues, it is very difficult to get water in a timely manner," Yakovlev said.

To solve the problems of farmers like Yakovlev, the Kyrgyz government initiated a 32-million-U.S.-dollar project allocated from a Chinese grant to reconstruct the country's irrigation system in May 2018.

Under the project, a reservoir was built by China Railway No.5 Engineering Group Co., Ltd in Kara-Oi village with a capacity of 470,000 cubic meters of water. To reduce the water loss, geotextiles have been laid under the reservoir. After completion, reservoir water had been running through five flume channels on the land of local farmers.

Water from the Aral River enters the reservoir, said Erlan Zhumekov, head of the Kara-Oi rural administration. "Our goal is to fill the reservoir and water our lands. This spring we filled the reservoir a little and watered part of the land. We plan to increase the filling capacity of the reservoir from year to year. Over the past few years, we have gradually increased the filling of the reservoir. Later, we will fill the reservoir fully," he said.

After the construction is completed, 330 hectares of undeveloped land were put into operation and the water supply was increased on an area of over 1,000 hectares.

The village of Ak-Olon in Issyk-Kul region is located 194 km from the capital of Bishkek and suffers from a lack of irrigation water. However, after China Railway No.5 Engineering Group rebuilt the Ak-Olon Canal for the village in 2021 after three years of work, the situation got much better.

The Ak-Olon Canal consists of 17 km of a main canal and 11.2 km of several on-farm canals, making it possible to put 516 hectares of new land into operation, and increasing the water supply on an area of 4,000 hectares.

"For the last two years, there has been no water problem," said Turar Zhunushbaev, the irrigation master in Ak-Olon village.

"China Railway No. 5 Engineering Group has helped us so much. For example, they have installed bridges on the roads that lead to our pastures," Mairam Kydyralieva, who served as the head of the village council when the canal project was under construction.

"There were a lot of potholes on the streets of our village, and they helped us repair these roads. They helped install a fence for a school and pour the foundation for the village first-aid post."

Kyrgyzstan plans to build 46 water management facilities to create 66,500 hectares of new irrigated land, increase the water supply to 51,080 hectares of land, transfer 9,500 hectares of land from machine irrigation to gravity irrigation, and improve the reclamation condition of 50,000 hectares of land from 2017-2026.

Editor: Su Dan