PRESENTED AT THE THIRD MEETING OF THE WORKING GROUP

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08 July 2022

PROGRAMME FOR IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA

PRESENTED AT THE THIRD MEETING OF THE WORKING GROUP

Belgrade, July 7, 2022 – The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of Serbia in cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO) finalizing the “Programme for Irrigation and Drainage of the Republic of Serbia for the period 2023-2032”. The main goal of this Programme is to enhance agricultural production by further improving water usage in irrigation and drainage and identifying and mapping priority investments in the next ten years.

The Working Group with a mandate to develop the Programme was established in June 2020. It enabled cooperation and interaction between national and international technical experts in the field of irrigation and drainage and comprised the concerned FAO experts and representatives of all relevant stakeholders in the Republic of Serbia, namely: the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Republic Water Directorate, Provincial Secretariat for Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry, Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Public enterprise “Voda Vojvodina”, Faculty of Agriculture, Institute for the Application of Science in Agriculture and the “Biosense” Institute.

Today, at the third meeting of the Working Group, the draft of the Irrigation and Drainage Program was presented, with a five-year Action Plan. This was the result of two years of work by experts within thematic working groups. The documents, including 9 technical briefs prepared within the technical working groups, are available and accessible on the following website: www.navodnjavanje.info.

The meeting was opened by the Head of the department for water management and usage of the Water Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Aleksandra Savić, who stated: “The Government of the Republic of Serbia is strengthening its management of water resources, with intensive investments in drainage and flood control systems over the past decade. The draft Program that was presented today is the first step in the further planned rehabilitation and modernization of the irrigation system in Serbia. The purpose of this Program is to establish a clear vision of the development of irrigation and drainage in Serbia during the period 2023-2032. years. Its implementation will allow us to make the most of the benefits of irrigation and drainage, while at the same time protecting the environment and other water users.”

Wafaa ElKhoury, FAO Investment Centre Service Chief, addressed the audience stating: “Enhancing agricultural production and strengthening the resilience of the sector to extreme climatic conditions is a global priority for food security and enhanced livelihoods. I am very happy that FAO experts had this opportunity to contribute to the efforts of the Government of the Republic of Serbia in the development of its water irrigation and drainage strategy which serves this goal. Water availability and use are becoming critical and irrigation in Serbia can support its role as one of the leading cereals and oilseeds production in the region, it can also reinforce and expand its production of high-value crops “.

The “Programme for Irrigation and Drainage of the Republic of Serbia for the period 2023-2032” provides guidelines for public investment in irrigation and drainage and the adequate management and financing of publicly-owned systems. Also, the Program establishes an appropriate legal and institutional framework for the development of individual on-farm irrigation, promotes efficient and profitable irrigation practices on agricultural farms, and ensures that public investments, policies, and regulations adequately take into account climate change.

The program is accompanied by a five-year Action Plan, which determines specific activities to be undertaken during the period 2023-2027 in relation to legislation, water resources management, irrigation and drainage fees, and investment in public irrigation and drainage systems. The action plan includes the responsible unit and budget support needed for investments in farms for irrigation and drainage purposes, as well as other support measures, such as research, extension, monitoring, and evaluation. The action plan will create capacities and mechanisms that will enable future investments to be properly selected, financed, and monitored.

After consideration of all comments received on the analysis and presentation of the strategy document and action plan, the Working Group will adopt the final document “Irrigation and Drainage Program in the Republic of Serbia from 2023 to 2032” and the Ministry of Agriculture will make it available to the public and organize a public discussion.