PM wants national strategy in coping with drought by end-2016

Photo: Barbora Kmentová

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has asked for a national strategy in coping with drought to be concluded by 2016. This should be preceded by a debate on the problems and priorities of individual regions and proposed changes in the spectrum of agricultural commodities grown.

Photo: Barbora Kmentová
On a visit to southern Moravia, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka met with members of the regional agrarian chamber to discuss the impact of the hottest and driest year on record on the region’s harvest. In view of predictions suggesting that drought may become a regular feature of the climate in Central Europe in the years to come the prime minister has asked for a national strategy in coping with drought which should involve new irrigation systems, water reservoirs, better water management and even a switch to agricultural commodities better suited to a hot and dry climate.

Although this year’s harvest suffered nationwide, southern Moravia took the biggest hit with fruit and vegetable growers seeing a 30 percent loss in profits and the potato harvest 20 percent lower than average. The region is the country’s main supplier of onions, with onion plantations covering an area of 15 hundred hectares, but this year the drought destroyed the bulk of it. Cornfields reached a third of their usual height, despite the fact that corn is more suited to a hot climate.

According to the regional agrarian chamber the state must contribute significantly to a basic network of irrigation systems in the region. Its chairman Vaclav Hlavačka said that even a transition to more vineyards and fruit plantations would not be successful without proper irrigation which was notably lacking this year.

The prime minister promised there would be government subsidies for the construction and management of irrigation systems, with the Czech Republic learning from countries such as Israel which have a great deal of experience in the field. The prime minister also stressed the need for the building of many more small water reservoirs and for farmers to learn more about water management which had long been a neglected sphere in this part of the world.

Meteorologists warn that the drought in 2015 is not likely to be isolated and predict more hot and dry summers in the coming years. By 2040 the average temperature in the Czech Republic is expected to go by one degree Celsius, by 2060 it could rise by 2.5 degrees.