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Complexity of Operation and Maintenance in Irrigation Network Management-A Case of the Dez Scheme in the Greater Dezful, Iran

Authors: Najaf Hedayat


Food and fibre production in arid and semi-arid regions has emerged as one of the major challenges for various socio-economic and political reasons such as the food security and self-sufficiency. Productive use of the renewable water resources has risen on top ofthe decision-making agenda. For this reason, efficient operation and maintenance of modern irrigation and drainage schemes become part and parcel and indispensible reality in agricultural policy making arena. The aim of this paper is to investigate the complexity of operating and maintaining such schemes, mainly focussing on challenges which enhance and opportunities that impedsustainable food and fibre production. The methodology involved using secondary data complemented byroutine observations and stakeholders views on issues that influence the O&M in the Dez command area. The SPSS program was used as an analytical framework for data analysis and interpretation.Results indicate poor application efficiency in most croplands, much of which is attributed to deficient operation of conveyance and distribution canals. These in turn, are reportedly linked to inadequate maintenance of the pumping stations and hydraulic structures like turnouts,flumes and other control systems particularly in the secondary and tertiary canals. Results show that the aforementioned deficiencies have been the major impediment to establishing regular flow toward the farm gates which subsequently undermine application efficiency and tillage operationsat farm level. Results further show that accumulative impact of such deficiencies has been the major causes of poorcrop yield and quality that deem production system in these croplands uneconomic. Results further show that the present state might undermine the sustainability of agricultural system in the command area. The overall conclusion being that present water management is unlikely to be responsive to challenges that the sector faces. And in the absence of coherent measures to shift the status quo situation in favour of more productive resource use, it would be hard to fulfil the objectives of the National Economic and Socio-cultural Development Plans.

Keywords: renewable water resources, Dez scheme, irrigationand drainage, sustainable crop production, O&M

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