People, Environment

Funds to Buy Farmers’ Water Rights

Funds to Buy Farmers’ Water RightsFunds to Buy Farmers’ Water Rights

The government has allocated $60 million to purchase the water rights of farmers around the imperiled Lake Urmia in West Azarbaijan Province.

Purchasing farmers’ water rights is a scheme devised by the Urmia Lake Restoration Program, a government initiative that began two years ago to help revive the lake.

The scheme, which is to be implemented over five years, aims to purchase 40% of irrigation waters used by farmers, ISNA reported.

According to Isa Kalantari, head of ULRP, the government needs to buy 31 to 38 billion cubic meters of water per year to ensure the success of the plan.

The former agriculture minister said the plan will not impact farmers’ crop output, adding that with the implementation of modern, efficient technology “[farmers] will be able to produce the same amount of crop with 40% less water”.

Wasteful farming practices going back ages guzzle 90% of Iran’s water, as the country’s 35% efficiency pales in comparison to the 70% in the developed world.

Once twice as large as Luxembourg and the largest saltwater lake in the Middle East, Lake Urmia is now a shadow of its former self, containing only 5% of the amount of water it held just 20 years ago.

Earlier this year, the government approved a budget worth $600 million to be spent on the lake’s revival program over the course of the current Iranian year (ending March 19, 2016).