Agriculture Minister Davor Romic said on Thursday that around 90 irrigation projects had been prepared for close to 124,000 hectares of farmland, recalling that about ten years ago, there had been almost no such projects.

Romic made the statement during a tour of the Jaruge pump station in Brod-Posavina County, which is a key part of the national project to irrigate the Bidj-Bosut Field, which is the biggest infrastructure project of the National Irrigation Plan.

The construction of a 14.7 kilometre water supply canal, apart from providing water for some 4,000 hectares of farmland in the canal area, will also provide additional water for the Bosut and Bidj rivers and smaller natural and/or man-made waterways. This will also create preconditions for the construction of more irrigation systems, covering an area of 2,710 hectares.

"There are obstacles in every plan and we are now overcoming them so that we can have irrigation systems in all parts of the country where they are necessary. To accomplish that, we will have to change some of our habits and turn to profitable crops because irrigation systems are expensive," Romic said, adding that the national irrigation project was one of the main projects of the Bridge party and the Patriotic Coalition.

Vukovar County head Bozo Galic said that the Jaruge pump station was a future part of the Danube-Sava canal that would secure sufficient quantities of water for some 4,000 hectares of farmland.

Speaking about the specifics of the Bidj-Bosut Field irrigation project, the director-general of the Hrvatske Vode public water management company, Ivica Plisic, said that the capacity of the two pump stations at Jaruge was 5,000 litres of water per second.

"The canal where the pumps are located is 14.7 kilometres long, and it is connected with the Bosut and Bidj rivers so water from here can reach Vinkovci and the border with Serbia," he said.

He said that water from the River Sava would enter the canal already this summer and that farmers would be able to use it for irrigation.

Aside from irrigation, the canal, which in some places is more than 100 metres wide, will have an important impact on the entire water management regime in that area.

The project totals around HRK 491 million.

Romic also said that the payment of incentives for 850,000 farmers would start on Friday. He added that the incentives totalled 3.4 billion kuna.

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