Kazakhstan: rehabilitation of saline lands in the Aral region

ASTANA (TCA) — The official opening ceremony and presentation of the pilot project “Demonstration of oasis irrigation in Kyzylorda oblast” was held in Zhalagash district of Kyzylorda region in Kazakhstan on June 7. The initiative is being implemented within the framework of a joint EU/UNDP/UNECE project called “Supporting Kazakhstan’s transition to a green economy model”. The project, fully funded by the European Union, provides for the implementation of sustainable green models in four regions of Kazakhstan.

Project implementation in Kyzylorda region includes introduction of modern green technologies in the area of effective resource management in the agricultural sector of Aral region.

The “Manak Baba” farm, located 12 kilometres south-west of the Tan village, was chosen for the project. The implementation of 9 innovative green technologies allowed to provide the farm with clean water and electricity. For example, within the framework of the project, a hybrid installation, which consists of a solar and wind power stations that convert solar radiation and the motion of wind masses into electrical energy, was built. Next, the resulting energy is used for domestic consumption and for farming purposes. In addition, a special pump pumps water from a well located on the farm to a large capacity tank, a daily regulation pool. From that pool the water is distributed evenly across the farm via the network of pipelines. The water, purified by a reverse osmosis unit, is used for household needs of a farm, for the cattle, as well as for irrigation.

The project resulted in rehabilitation of 5 hectares of saline, 3 hectares of which is used as an apple orchard, and the rest is intended for the cultivation of vegetable crops. The profitability of this type of business is 7%, with a full payback period of 5 years. The development of such a small agricultural business in the Aral region by using green technologies can potentially provide 29 million tenge savings in water and energy consumption. Besides, the project helps to reduce CO2 emissions up to 300 tonnes per year. In total, the project will allow to provide 37 000 residents of Zhalagash district of Kyzylorda region with high-quality agricultural products.

In general, the example of this project demonstrated the advantages of using modern green technologies, as well as their further distribution and application on a wider scale.

The Akim of Kyzylorda region Mr. Krymbek Kusherbayev, the UN Resident Coordinator / UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan Mr. Norimasa Shimomura, the Charge d’Affaires of the European Union Delegation to Kazakhstan Mr. Zoltan Szalai and the Charge d’Affaires of the German Embassy in Kazakhstan Mr. Jonatan Weinberg attended the event.

“This is a good example of how the introduction of new technologies and approaches has led to diversification and potential growth in productivity. We can see that the supply of agricultural products can help achieve broader development goals,” said Mr. Norimasa Shimomura, UN Resident Coordinator / UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan.

“We believe and recognize Kazakhstan as a very important strategic partner in future development. And work in the regions is a key element of our strategy. Our plans are to work with the regions, including the Kyzylorda region, in a new format through various banks of development. This project, which is implemented with the financial support from the EU, is a successful example of the implementation of a project in the field of green economy,” said Mr. Zoltan Szalai, the Charge d’Affaires of the European Union Delegation to Kazakhstan.

The total area of salinized soils in Kazakhstan is 111.55 million hectares or 41% of the country’s territory. In Kyzylorda region alone, affected by the Aral Sea catastrophe, 73,307 thousand hectares of irrigated lands are in unsatisfactory condition. Most of the available irrigated lands require radical improvement. All these factors also strongly affect the development of livestock. The lack of water or access to it, however, impedes the development of livestock breeding. Meanwhile, increasing the yield of high-quality agricultural products and livestock development can provide a good basis for economic stability not only for the region, but for the whole country. Rational use of saline lands and the involvement of wasteland in circulation is one of the most challenging issues in Kazakhstan’s agricultural sector.

Sergey Kwan