The Ministry and the State Mercantile Society of Agricultural Infrastructures (Seiasa) have signed three collaboration agreements that will involve mobilizing a public-private investment of 745.40 million euro in 11 autonomous communities, "to promote sustainable, efficient, and modern irrigation, which is a fundamental pillar of the Spanish agri-food system, but also to guarantee the future of the rural environment," stated Minister Planas.
The ministry is in the process of carrying out the most ambitious investment in irrigation modernization in history, with investments that will exceed 2,344 million euro between 2022 and 2027, he added. In total, the irrigation of 700,000 hectares of crops will be modernized benefitting some 20,000 producers. These investments are complemented by those planned by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge worth 5 billion euro.
The minister recalled the importance of irrigation in Spain's agricultural production system. In 2022, the country had an irrigated area of 3,771,000 hectares, which is only 23% of the total cultivated land but accounts for 65% of the country's total plant production value. "Thanks to irrigation systems the value of Spanish agricultural production has grown by 60% so far this century," Planas stressed.
In addition to bringing greater profitability and productivity to food production, irrigation also has important social benefits, since the production, transformation, and marketing processes generate three times more jobs than those of rain-fed crops, which favors the fixing of population in rural areas and territorial balance.
The minister stressed that sustainable irrigation is "essential to face the double challenge of providing sufficient food to a growing population with fewer natural water resources as a result of climate change." Therefore, the commitment to modernization promoted by the ministry includes an improvement in water efficiency. The projected works will help the sector achieve savings of at least 10% in the volume of water currently used, but there will also be better use of precision systems and the incorporation of new technologies. The minister recalled that 56% of the irrigation is already carried out using the drip system, which is more efficient. The use of non-conventional water, such as purified and desalinated water, is also planned.