Destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant will become the biggest problem in the agriculture of southern Ukraine, said the minister of agrarian policy and food of the country, Mykola Solskyi.
The Russian-held plant has severely weakened following a reported explosion in the early hours on Tuesday 6 June.
The Kakhovka canal supplies water to more than half a million hectares of land, according to Solskyi. The irrigation problem is set to significantly impact agriculture as well as the environmental and social spheres in the south of Ukraine.
©Government of Ukraine
Kakhovka’s reservoir was the source of two irrigation and water supply systems – the Kakhovka system and the North Crimean canal. These systems were built with water levels in mind that could minimise the use of electricity for pumps.
As a result of the destruction, the water level has dropped, meaning that the water does not reach the systems. In order to raise the level, the dam must be rebuilt.
Water supply of 31 irrigation systems of the fields of Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions will be stopped due to the destruction. In 2021’s record harvest, these systems provided irrigation for 584 thousand hectares, of which around 4 million tons of grain and oilseeds worth approximately $1.5 billion were collected.
The ministry of agrarian policy and food of Ukraine predicts the flooding of approximately 10 thousand hectares of agricultural land on the right bank of the Kherson region as a result of the dams destruction.
Land that does not have irrigation systems in place will also suffer, as farmers will no longer have any reason to cultivate it, Solskyi. The main and most stable income the farmers received was said to be from the harvests on the fields that had irrigation systems in place.
Solskyi commented: “The consequences of irrigation termination are much more serious. Not just half a million hectares, but a million and a half hectares will not be used to their full potential. It will take 3 to 5 to 7 years to restore the irrigation. And this should be a priority. This is not only an agricultural and environmental issue, but also a social one. Farmers maintain social life in the surrounding villages, pay taxes, pay rent to landlords, who are mostly elderly people, for their shares.”
The ministry stated that ingress and death of freshwater fish and other biological resources in the salt waters of the Black Sea will also prove to be problematic.
Although neither Russia nor Ukraine have claimed responsibility for the destruction, many major news outlets including Reuters and The Guardian have reported that Ukraine’s security service intercepted a telephone call proving a Russian “sabotage group” blew up the Kakhovka hydroelectric station and dam –though the outlets note that they have not independently verified the recording.
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