|[ 1. First ]||[ 2. Second ]||[ 3. Third ]||[ 4. Fourth ]||[ 5. Fifth ]|
CLIMATE IS CHANGING: WHAT WILL WE FACE IN THE FUTURE?
CLIMATE IS CHANGING: WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
CLIMATE IS CHANGING: HOW TO SAVE OUR WATER?
CLIMATE IS CHANGING: WHAT WILL WE FACE IN THE FUTURE?
Climate, the component of nature or environment, is less dependent on us. We can like or dislike climate, but we are not able to change it as we wish. Although accepting the view “Nature does not have a bad weather” as the revelation from above, we complaint of the weather more often than of another thing. It rains, but we want sunshine. In winter we would like no slush but snow as in bygone days, and children to sleigh down the hills. However, it doesn’t snow. In summer during saratan, particularly such as the present one with 47 degrees of heat in Tashkent, we would like if only the nights be cool, then we remember spring thunderstorm and a warm wind in May as a high comfort.
Climate is changing, it is globally warming. The old remember, how being the schoolboys they played at snowballs and skated. “How are skates?” grandchildren question. In present warm winters the children can’t scratch together snow to make a snow man. According to Tashkent meteorological station, during the observations for the last century the average annual temperature has risen only by 1.3 degree. But now the temperature in winter rises higher than in summer, and there are less and less frosts in winter in our region.
We are found to be an accessory to the warming. We burn very much organic fuel, and the planet doesn’t have time to absorb additional carbon dioxide. It is accumulated in the atmosphere and causes greenhouse effect – rise of the temperature at the same solar activity. Our industry discharges to the air other gases, contributing to greenhouse effect even though to less degree. The climatologists record slow but steady rise of the temperature since the middle of the last century. For this period, content of carbon dioxide in the air has increased by one third. The average annual temperature on the planet rose by about 1.5 degree.
I spent this winter at my children’s and sister’s in Russia, and I didn’t see Russian winter with a real deep snow and frosts. There was slush, a typical Tashkent winter, about which you always think: “It would rather end”. Since slush is the worst that could be outdoors.
The increase in proportion of carbon dioxide and other components, causing greenhouse effect, as a direct result of human activity, will continue. Since our passion for progress, forward movement and increase of our role in environment is irresistible. But carbon dioxide is planet heater. There would never be 300 degrees on the surface of the Venus, if its atmosphere didn’t mainly contain carbon dioxide.
We watch climate change that is caused with our participation, though we unrealized it. A ton, three, or even five tons of organic fuel per a head annually is a norm. It is impossible to provide comfort without it: there will not be a light in the flat, gas in the kitchen, the battery will not heat in winter, automobiles and trains will not move, airplanes will not fly, plants will not give its produce.
Climate is characterized by anomalies, which are sometimes hardly explained. I remember winter in 1968-1969, unusually snowy and cold. In Talas valley we got into snowstorm of such density that we swung the car around by hands to return. This operation lasted two minutes, but after it I raked out snow from everywhere from all pockets, ears and nostrils, even, pardon, from the fly. It was snowing in torrents. For that year there had been snow and soil slips as for hundred years, and floods of unprecedented force. That year the precipitation for two years fell, and in May, when all gates of Farkhad waterworks were open and more than
Since then there was no year like this, but a series of dry years, and the Aral Sea, which was stable before, began to dry up rapidly. It happened due to our basic or economic needs again. Up to the middle of the last century the Aral Sea basin population didn’t exceed ten millions. For the thousands of years it has neared to forty millions. All these people, of course, lived on their land, and irrigated farming swiftly extended.
Today the inhabitants feed owing to their land as well. It is primary. But now water flowed into the Aral Sea is not enough. We could not change anything in this scenario. Because it was not to fill the Aral at the expense of our daily bread. And we stopped to fill it. The area of the sea decreased by half, and volume - by three quarters. But it was not stable before. 7-8 years ago the Aral was two times as large as it was in the middle of the last century. But two thousand years ago it was thirty times smaller. These are the results of researches carried on by paleontologists and reflected in the book of Mr. Victor Chub, Tashkent’s famous climatologist and weather analyst, “Climate change and its impact on natural resources potential of the Republic of Uzbekistan”.
The meteorologists record an approximate status-quo at its peculiarity in whole since abnormal 1969: while there were not specific climate deviations, the temperature rose slowly, but steadily. River water availability almost suited eleven-year solar activity cycle, and during low water years the Aral Sea didn’t receive nothing, but in average and high years twenty and more cubic kilometers flowed into it that was about a third of that flowed before. The level of the sea dropped 17 meters, salinity increased by fourth times and exceeded that of world ocean water. Freshwater fish couldn’t habitats and generate in such water. Then it was decided to direct Amudarya water not to the sea, but to Sudochye delta lakes and others in years when it reaches the delta,, and to breed fish and musk-rats there. The Aral Sea received only that remained after satisfying all other demands for water.
The current year hasn’t deprived us of water. Hydraulic engineers and specialists in reclamation, who fought cruel water shortage during two years, now has had to fight floods, mudflows and soil slips. Between two evils it’s not worth choosing? You will not say so! In our region much water is always better than that which is scarce, measured drop by drop. Even if in some places bridges or aqueducts would be swept away, unsuccessfully built houses would be washed away. But let the tributaries river and canal beds and water reservoirs be full. I have not for a long time been a witness of that after harvesting wheat we sowed rice in the middle of summer.
This year when there is water abundance in all oblasts, and Amudarya river flows into the Aral Sea again, it is the time to think of tomorrow when climate can notably warm, summer can begin one or two weeks earlier and end ten days later, and water can be less than it is today, and to think of how we should act in such situation and what we should undertake to settle it. But we have what to undertake, since we have been civilized long ago. We have enough reservoirs, canals and other hydro technical constructions, by which water is supplied in necessary amount at necessary time to where we need. We have sufficient experience of careful rational use of water in our fields.
Climatic anomalies in this year amazed us again: threatening typhoons with hundreds of deaths, destroying floods in the center of Europe, in the south of Russia and in China, an unusually high temperature here and there, forest fires in areas of thousand square kilometers in Siberia and USA, drought in Canada that had a pernicious effect on grain yields (Canada first for many years will not export wheat). If the 19th century gave us the novel “Gone with the wind”, then this century is most likely to be mentioned in yet unwritten novel “Gone with the sandstorm”.
Over the last thirty years insurance payments, related to weather anomalies, increased by six times and reached 90 billion dollars a year. It is widely known that insurance payments cover only a small part of the suffered damages. Moreover, it is impossible to be protected from all accidents by insurance policy. The losses owing to disasters and tragedies caused by bad weather, including harvest deficiency and crop failure, are 2.5 times higher than those because of earthquakes and volcano eruptions. Only Khorezm and Karakalpakstan received more than two million dollars as a governmental assistance to eliminate the consequences of catastrophic water shortage in the last year.
The scientists have persistently been learning to model climatic processes a long time. They believe their forecasts as much as possible, because most of them have been already tested in practice. It is useful from any point of view to know how climate will be in the near future. The knowledge will enable to prepare in advance for negative changes.
After 25-40 years the amount of carbon dioxide will double, since the volumes of organic fuel, burnt by us, increase annually. The climatologists of USA, Canada and Great Britain, World Weather Service, World Meteorological Organization and our Hydro Meteorological Service give an answer to what will happen to climate at that time. The conclusions are the same: the temperature on the Earth will be rise. But by how many degrees, where and how? By one-two, or even three degrees on the average. In northern latitudes it will rise higher than in southern latitudes, in plains higher than in mountains. Winter temperature will be three degrees higher that will result in a change in the character of our winters: the frosts will be more and more considered as departure from the norm.
Doubling of carbon dioxide concentration in the air also has positive sides: crop yields will increase by 10-20% if only favorable conditions are provided for plants. In general, more precipitation will fall, but atmospheric processes, which are sustainable and predictable today, can lose this sustainability tomorrow. Thus, if in the past years the winds over our region had latitudinal direction and the present weather in Nukus meant tomorrow’s weather in Tashkent, then this year the winds of meridional direction, which have carried us not our, but Indian, Pakistani and another water, prevail. Melting of mountain glaciers will intensify that will have effect on the volume and the nature of our river flows. High mountain glaciers in our region have rapidly and inevitably been decreasing for a long time. World ocean level will rise more quickly than before (for the last 150 years it has risen by 10 cm).
We can move through the time not one third century, but many centuries and milleniums further, and imagine absolute melting of ice shields in Antarctica and Greenland. The face of the planet itself will change, world ocean level will increase by 60 m. People are most likely to defend the lands where they live from sea invasion, since their opportunities will be incomparable to those at present. I imagine a dam with a height of 70 m and a width of half a kilometer, separating European and Asian plains from the ocean, and the dams on Gibraltar and Baltic passages, stabilizing the levels of the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas according to the current marks. Even though all that is an imagination. It is not yet the time to anticipate a millenium further because of that we don’t know the main thing how the potential of humanity will be then.
It is possible and necessary to anticipate for the near future, and the leading climatologists of the world have done it to this or another degree of probability. What will global climate warming cause in our region, which is located in the center of a large continent? Again warming by average 1-2 degrees, and near the Aral Sea by 3 degrees. Winters will become softer, non-frost period will lengthen, and more precipitation will fall in winter, but less in spring and in the beginning of summer. The opposite side of such soft winters consists of that agricultural pests such as various plant-louse, locust, Colorado beetle will more easily hibernate and propagate, and combating them will cost more expensive. However, vegetable, orchard and wine crop yields can improve by one fifth. In summer the amount of hot days is going to increase, and days with a temperature of more than forty degrees may number 25-30 in the south of the country, and 10-15 in Tashkent.
Various climate change scenarios suppose various amounts of water. According to the most of them, we will have approximately the same quantity of water that it is today, but the precipitation will be more in winter and less in spring and autumn. But according to Canadian forecast, which is the worst for us, Amudarya river flows will decrease by more than one third, and those of Syrdarya by one fifth. If now Amudarya is a river that is ideal for our irrigated farming taking into account that flows are allocated by the four seasons, and the peak of flooding is in July, then tomorrow climatologists predict increase of its flows in winter and reduction in summer. Such flow reallocation will be the result of rapid melting of Pamirs glaciers. But there is only one capacious reservoir, Nurek, in this river basin.
But even if the amount of our river water resources would be previous, their users will be not 40 million, as now, but 55-60 million people. Irrigated lands area will extend by about a million ha. It is certain that the Aral Sea and the Priaralye will be harder pressed. Afghanistan, returning to a peaceful life, will lay claim to its share of Amudarya water resources, and these well-founded claims to Central Asian community are to be met.
From bygone days water is a number one value in our arid region. In the near future the worth of water will only grow. Water shortage is most likely to happen more frequently than in the past twenty years. We remember quite well by the last year, how cruel it is and how severely it demands from us. What can we oppose to it? Cooperation and organization of water users, and water saving. Our strong will and decision to use water efficiently. It will not require anything unfeasible of us, but we should use our water with more responsibility, properly and rationally. It concerns users at all levels from neighboring country to our farmers.
CLIMATE IS CHANGING: WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
Today there are five independent states, which try to enter with dignity into the international community and to show themselves to this community from the best side, on the territory of Central Asia. Only yesterday these states were union republics in a large, but not very happy country. The peoples living in these states have common historical and often ethnic roots and what is the most important a single belief. These peoples have one common invaluable wealth water.
Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers, born in sky-high mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikstan, flow to the plains in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan and on the way to their sea are depleted for irrigation. These rivers give us to drink and eat, as our land will lose its fertility without their water.
The issues of various complexity and levels are raised between neighbor-peoples. The age-old experience teaches that it gets better for all, when these issues are solved in neighborly way through taking mutual interests and compromises into account so that any arbitrator would say: yes, that is the best alternative.
Herein it is important not only to come to agreement, but also to learn to fulfill each paragraph of it. To fulfill even when they have to tear off themselves. But tearing off himself for the benefit of neighbor does not mean incurring losses. Because in a hard situation the neighbor will act in the same way.
Water resources were allocated between the five Central Asian states yet in Soviet times. In order that Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan may receive the Syrdarya water resources in needed amounts and at needed time, Toktogul reservoir was built in Kyrgyzstan. It is 10 times bigger than Charvak reservoir, which charms the inhabitants of Tashkent by its panorama. The reservoir accumulates six-monthly Syrdarya flows. The significance of Nurek reservoir in Tajikistan and of Tuyamuyun reservoir on Amudarya low reaches for Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan is the same. They are specially called to fill the deficiency of water given short by the nature in low water years.
Water allocation principles, inherited by the five Central Asian states from the former united country, fully suit Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan and not quite Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Herein it should be said that Toktogul and Nurek hydrounits are also the biggest electric power producers, and for the Kyrgyz not having their own organic fuel it is beneficial to generate the most of electric energy in cold season of year when the demand for it is maximal.
That is Toktogul reservoir in the interests of Kyrgyzstan should work maximally in winter. In our interests it should work in summer. Similar, but not so direct situation with Nurek hydrounit, the reservoir of which is less by half than Toktogul. The compromises between the Kyrgyz's and our interests are easily seen. If we want to receive Toktogul water in needed amount and at needed time, we should completely compensate the neighbor for losing the benefit by delivering electric energy and natural gas in winter and purchasing surpluses of Kyrgyz electric power in summer.
After thoroughly weighting and taking into account the interests of the parties, the appropriate agreements were developed and concluded. So, more than ten years ago a collective body on practical implementation of these treaties Interstate Coordination Water Commission was established. The Commission has under its supervision Amudarya and Syrdarya basin organizations and Scientific-Information Center, and handles its role in whole.
But today, in high water year, it should be directly said that the authority of this commission in the last extremely low water year was not always enough so that its instructions for equitable water allocation be indisputably executed. Local authorities often ignored these instructions. We will not point a finger at the neighbors. The farmers in Surkhandarya and Kashkadarya calmly irrigated, and in some places over-irrigated their fields, when the Aral Sea coastal zone was strangled by water dearth. The old rule remained by the past life had been confirmed: who are at the head of the ditch, those have water, who are at the end, they have its remainders.
We should learn to observe the signed agreements, and it refers not only water. We should learn to cooperate in water resources management at all levels at water user level, at irrigation system level, at river basin level. It is necessary this cooperation to take more and more civilized shapes. If, e.g., there is information on a large-scale winter water depletion by the Kyrgyz despite the signed agreement, then it is necessary to indicate the cause incomplete delivery of coal by the Kazakh, of electric energy and gas by us, in case of it (our country fulfills its engagements related to agreements on water allocation legibly to the limit) and to mention the names of the officials responsible for such breaches. Water agreements directly concern each of us, and we should start controlling the performance of them from us.
Although in the 1990s our neighbor, to put it mildly, was not always reasonable in respect of us. Imagine winter flood on the Syrdarya river and shallowing of it in summer, and will understand the words of Mr. A. Jalalov, the First Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources of Uzbekistan.
After collapse of the Soviet Union the tendencies, contradicting the logic and postulates of the international law, started to appear in the approaches of newly formed sovereign states to interstate water allocation and use problem. A severe reality of market economy, urging to take actions that allow to sustain at least for a time and to survive in the chaos of transition period, had an effect as well.
It is needless to say that solving of the issues on interstate water relations in such a complex region as the Aral Sea basin now requires balanced approach, high professionalism and maximal restraint from all the participants, first of all, officials.
In the view of our country, basin schemes of integrated water resources use and protection, approved by all the former union republics before acquiring by them the status of independent states, and the Agreement of 1992 between the five Central Asian states on cooperation in field of joint management of interstate sources water resources are basic for the realization of interstate water resources management in the Aral Sea basin.
Cooperation in joint water resources management is a live process crowded with concrete contents. The future promises us only increasing loads to our water sources. If there are population growth and irrigated farming, we are not given anything else. Our cooperation should not be locked in current problems, it should deepen and have a prospect. Water sector construction is an excellent field for it.
It is time to revive the construction of Rogun hydrounit. The lessons of Rogun tragedy should be carefully learned. Foundation pit of hydrounit under construction was flooded when preparatory work for the launch of the first block was passing. The incident was caused by both natural (mud-torrent impounded outlet portal of construction tunnel) and social elements (the conflict within Tajikistan deprived the construction of specialists). If not only international corporations, but also our country and Turkmenistan were to succeed to finance the completion of Rogun hydroelectric power plant, we would derive a significant benefit from it.
About half a century ago hydraulic engineers of Tashkent outlined Dashtidjum hydroelectric power plant on Pyanj, having a generating capacity of more than 4 million TW and a dam with a height of more than 400m. Its construction with the assistance of international community would create first large regulating capacity on Pyanj. Most stations of Naryn hydropower cascade are not completed. Of course, constructing hydropower plants a long and trouble-some process. But as well profitable: energy generated by them is much cheaper than that of thermoelectric power stations.
So, the specialists put in the agenda the issue on creation of Central Asian hydropower consortium, which would take upon itself first material maintenance of interstate agreements on joint water resources management, and in the future erection of large hydropower schemes, reconstruction and re-equipment of irrigation and drainage systems. Probably, this consortium will also contribute to reanimate Siberia–Central Asia water project.
The most part of irrigated lands here is saline and needs fertility recovery. Time to reconstruct also other objects of water sector is coming. In the 1990s we closed many weather stations and saved something on it. But it is found that we also lost. We lost accuracy of information on the weather, accuracy of river water availability forecast. At one time I liked to walk from Burchmulla to Angren and used to visit “Kyzylcha” weather station on Angren plateau at a height of 2103m. For the last time I went by this route five years ago and saw only concrete foundation in the place of meteorological station.
To keep in good state and re-equip the objects of water sector, the money, and not few, is required. Formation of market economy in our region more painfully affected the state of the industry. The industry, made a great contribution to country’s gross product in former times, stepped aside to background, giving up the first place to feeding land. We used to live mostly on land, and it seems to me that we badly suppose, how we can revive and develop our industry, not small according to any measures. Thus, Uzbekistan produces electric energy per capita a little more than Turkey.
The first real step in this direction (I mean automobile plant in Asaka) was met with applauds not only in our country. However, such examples, unfortunately, are few. Undoubtedly, native industry, as soon as possible passing privatization stage, should get back its position in country’s economic life. Herein the peak of the fall is already behind, but we limply get out of it. But we will obtain real money for water saving and many others provided the industry is strong, stably works and rapidly goes to growth.
We have a first-class raw-material source for many sectors of industry. Deep processing of cotton fiber promises us more considerable opportunities.
China produces cotton fiber three times as much as our country, and it sells abroad no kilogram, but only as fabrics and ready-made clothes. China not only provides clothes for its numerous population, but also earns $50 billion a year from exporting goods made of cotton. This experience has much attractive.
I am glad for any announcement about new spinning or weaving factory or sewing workshop, which have their certain master, so, there is order, there has been started production. I am glad for every new sewing machine in mahalla (small district), every new family workshop. I am glad that goods, sewn by local producers, can be easily differed on the market from imported ones by their price they are many times cheaper.
The clothes sewn by us for casual wear suit almost everyone. But they are not enough good for holidays. Well, we will learn to saw evening dresses from the French and the Italian, but now they are better in this.
Immediate development of industry in the Priaralye with the help of the international community will remove most problems of this long-suffering region. The industry rather than the agriculture, to my mind, is fated to help out the Priaralye of crisis.
The better our industry will work, the more money our country will have. The more easily our problems will be solved. When the industry is strong and the population is employed, the question, how is the current year high or low water year, will considerably lose its keenness. A strong industry is also quite different attitude of the people. This is our confidence in the future rain or shine.
CLIMATE IS CHANGING: HOW TO SAVE OUR WATER?
The stress on our water resources will increase, and the reasons are very simple: warmer and longer summer and population growth. And our irrigated farming itself is not a constant value. It will continue to increase. So, all of us, especially villagers the main users of water, have to save our water, especially every day. The times when we were highly requested to save water only in low water years have passed. Without strict and daily water saving, without understanding of age-old wisdom, without careful use of each liter of water, we can’t provide us with own food-stuffs, save high cotton export potential and achieve the well-being.
The problem how to save our water faces us in all its magnitude. But yet there is no cause for particular alarm. This is an old problem. It was caused by our living conditions, and our children and grandchildren will live and fit in with it. We have what to oppose to this problem. We prepare excellent water specialists, which are able to manage water resources as they are now managed all over the civilized world in common sense, correctly and legibly, taking into account the ancient experience of their people, allowing for the best world achievements in this field of human activity. We have best scientific-research institutes in irrigation, farming, soil science, and hydro meteorological services, which accumulated a large amount of data on our land and water, on optimal forms of water and land interaction. Today it is easy to select irrigation method and regime for any field with any soil type and a set of crops in any of our oblasts. The included guidelines will prompt, when and with how much water this field should be moistened.
These guidelines are not the abstracts at all, and they should not be extracted from bulky volumes of scientific monographs, though this way is more suitable for the specialists. Our scientific institutes in all the oblasts created demonstration plots, on which every land user can take comprehensive consultations on how should water be used with maximal benefit for one or another crop, if he needs and is interested in it. Beside of it, there is control field, in which water is used traditionally, for use of visual methods.
The demonstration field learns: do as specialists recommend, and you will obtain crop yields about 1.4 times higher and will spend less water. The matter is irrigation time, effective water use and nothing else. Neither expensive drip irrigation nor sprinkling. The applied irrigation method is popular, that is traditional furrow irrigation, but often over short furrows and after a furrow, and flows are registered legibly on every irrigated lot.
Undoubtedly, the distance between demonstration plot and whole irrigated area is not small. But the distance is surmountable, and we need only try hard till an absolute progress.
Applying water no more than it is required by each certain field is almost an art. And I think creation of water user associations (they will be associations in the common interests), water user contests on water saving will raise the authority of irrigators, “mirab”, up to the mark unachievable earlier. They will be publicly respected men. Because they are trusted to manage the most valuable that we have our water. By the way, our neighbors have already created and developed WUAs.
I repeat that the specialists can give the recommendations practically for each field: what and how to grow in it, how to recover its fertility, if it is undermined by salinization and poor drainage water outflow. It would be quite good to use khoshar joint work for the common weal for individual cases of recovering the fertility of irrigated lands and the workability of reclamation systems. For example, in Kashkadarya oblast the flumes work better than those in Syrdarya and Djizak oblasts they are well-attended, don’t leak, and fulfill their function. Since there most attention is given to keeping them in order. The farmers of Kashkadarya oblast know that if they keep flumes intact and in order, they will receive from their land all that it can give.
My life was always bound up with water saving. The first independent work of me as hydraulic engineer was on flume irrigation network installation in Hunger Steppe (forty years ago). We began to use this novelty adopted from the French on a scale, which the French had never even dreamt of. When the flume, a flexible hose with an outlet to each furrow, was applied, labor productivity during irrigation had increased by four to times. Subsurface, horizontal and vertical drainage, fulfilling the function of kidneys, provided saline health of the soil. We knew that while drainage was in order, Hunger Steppe would serve people faithfully.
Then I participated in designing large water reservoirs, but after I became a journalist I visited these construction sites many times. I reiterate that they are exceptionally reliable structures, and nothing may happen to them. They may function only the way it was provided for in the project rather than another one. I have recently visited Tupolang reservoir construction. The dam on Tupolang river is being constructed slowly but solidly as the preceding ones were built. I am absolutely sure that the designs of high dams such as Nurek will be born in Tashkent.
Water saving works in full measure when it is based on comprehensive approach, i. e. it does not leave any interested man aside. For example, water saving can be implemented, starting in a field where water is transformed into the crop yield, and continuing through a ditch that goes to the given field, an on-farm irrigation canal that supplies water to that ditch, a main canal, a river, its basin, of which one part is in this country, and another one - in other country, and at all these levels there are own water saving opportunities, the measures of the first, second, third turns, from the simplest and cheapest to the most expensive and technically improved ones.
Today we can afford only low-cost activities, so we will stop at them. Tomorrow, becoming richer and realizing that none but we have to save our water, anyhow we will line most earth canals with watertight concrete, will restore silted, rushy reclamation systems.
Water charges can be good incentive for water saving. Each of us knows it by his experience. At home we spent gas and water not so carefully, as electric energy, which is measured by counter. A housewife shuts off gas range only when half of the kettle boils away. In the kitchen of most smokers gas burns whole day come and light a cigarette, and save on matches.
We are not ready to apply this incentive right now or tomorrow. May be the day after tomorrow when we will become richer? When the government will pay more for agricultural produce, but will decline all responsibilities for irrigation and drainage systems maintenance, and water, supplied to field, being a product of human labor, as any other one, will be paid by its direct user. Water charges are a great stimulus for water saving, and if we would not use it, we will not learn to save water properly.
At present the farmers of Fergana valley spent water more efficiently. Such situation is based on age-old experience of irrigated farming. They use return waters two or three times. In Fergana valley water supply system is connected as nowhere else. It is better to test the first complex water saving program in a large area in this blessed valley.
Dividing former state and collective farms into small lease-hold and private farms generates its problems. Losses of water during diverting it from on-farm irrigation canals to lease-hold and private plots are especially high. Today it is a nearest area, demanding a close attention.
Today we have open access to international experience in water saving as never before. Herein UN Food Commission is an innovator. It has own marks and criteria, which you can easily look through, as well as standard or widely accessible methodologies.
Technologies excluding crop irrigation also have a direct relation to water saving. The reserves of rain-fed farming are far from being exhausted. There are numerous foothills with annual precipitation of 500-700 mm in Central Asia. Unhomogeneous forests on the northern slopes of our mountains are a natural phenomenon rather than an exclusive one. Mountain slopes terracing, planting gardens on the terraces to retain moisture through deeply hoeing all that was tested many times and showed not only vitality, but also a high efficiency. Almond-trees behind Gazalkent, planted a third century ago, finely yield without irrigation. Vine, apple, walnut (according to I. V. Michurin, one cubic meter of its wood sells on the world market as twenty cubic meters of pine wood, and a kilogram of nuts substitutes for two kilograms of meat) grow well on the mountain terraces.
I was in these mountain orchards in September, and I confirm: the apple-trees and vines on the terraces have thick, succulent leaves and fruit well. Besides, no irrigation is applied, but the terraces should be deeply hoed. It is necessary only to demonstrate to farmers what and how to do, to instruct them, and then even American nut, pecan, will grow here (this giant tree reaches a height of 60 m), hazelnut and sweet nut of brand name "Ideal", developed by our selectionists, will be widely spread. "Ideal" is not only a single sort of walnut, whose fruit contains sugar, but also has a thin shell and blossoms twice a year, in April and May, and its May blossom is never affected by the frosts.
Many others can come to our mountain slopes from our pilot allotments. The main thing is that desire to use it here, in own lands, to introduce it, as it was said before, would have appeared. Market, private enterprise and a long-term land rent will provide a most wide expansion to this initiative.
The variations of non-irrigated farming are found to be not so few. One of them seemed to me very fantastic at one time. This is irrigation from the air in the literal sense of a word. I saw it in my eyes fifteen years ago in Dushanbe. Experimental plot and planted tomatoes on it. The soil was covered with polyethylene film, and the film in its turn was bestrewn with a layer of ground. A hole with a size of ten by ten centimeters was designed for every tomato bush. That was all technology. In the nighttime at a low temperature and increased air humidity the ground under the film absorbed the moisture, but in the daytime the plants released it. Was nighttime moisture enough for them? Yes, it was. The fruits by their size resulted smaller than those under irrigation, but solid and pulpy. If, for example, the tomatoes, grown in Karshi and sent to a far road, begins to get out of order yet after Tashkent, then these tight tomatoes would not be damaged by the road to Krasnoyarsk, Yakutsk.
It is a pity that I don’t remember the name of the scientist who carried on these experiments. His technology was tested also on vine, on fruit trees. Face a pan around the apple tree or vine with stone (for this purpose, much stone is needed), and at night this stone will as a pump extract water from the air and direct it to the ground, to the roots. This moisture will be enough for the plants.
Today these technologies can be developed up to the stage of inculcation, and can be requested. Any farmer will come to pilot plot, see, ask, remember, and then he will repeat all that in his land and will multiply his profit.
Water saving has many variations and it is especially effective when its driver is personal interest. In our region water saving for its great importance stops being merely production problem, it becomes a social issue. Whether directly or indirectly, it involves all the society into its orbit.
Preparing to today’s talk with readers, I had talks, direct and indirect (through articles and scientific works) with Mr. V. Chub, a famous climatologist of Tashkent, leading water specialists from Central Asian Scientific-Research Institute of Irrigation and Interstate Water Coordination Commission such as Prof. V.A. Dukhovny, Dr. V.I. Sokolov, Mr. A.G. Sorokin, Mr. M.G. Khorst. For some issues I was guided by their view, but for the most by own view. It was hardest to translate the language of their situation analysis, their strictly scientific conclusion into understandable, i.e. language of newspaper writing, since I set myself only this purpose. I would be glad if I succeeded in achieving it.
Sergey P. Tatur (1937),
famous writer from Tashkent, editor of "Star of East" magazine, member of Writer's Union.