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Dutch master plan for Thessaly; alarm over desertification due to water scarcity

Konstantinos Tsakalidis / SOOC

The master plan of the Dutch HVA includes a series of brave measures for the primary sector

Farmers in Thessaly would rather turn to vegetables and fruits instead of cotton and corn in the next six years in order to ensure their survival, according to Dutch experts who explained that the drought and storms like Daniel should now be treated as frequent phenomena carrying the risk of serious and irreversible damage.

In more detail, the master plan of the Dutch HVA includes a series of brave measures for the primary sector that move in the direction of not only the survival of the plain but its real “blooming”, with special focus on saving water resources.

According to their plan, many urgent interventions are necessary as it was realized that the agriculture and livestock sectors in Thessaly are also facing an immediate and very serious risk: the lack of water and consequently the desertification of the area.

Huge risk of irreversible damage

The widespread use of groundwater by the farmers of Thessaly through tens of thousands of wells, with or without permission, has led to the depletion of groundwater levels resulting in too many cases of seawater inflow into the underground aquifer. As groundwater becomes salinized, farmers will no longer be able to use it for irrigation, and the agricultural sector will face a truly enormous risk of serious and irreversible damage.

The Dutch proposals for water use and crops

More specifically, the Dutch proposals for the agricultural sector focus on: limiting water use and finding ways to increase the available amounts of water. Initially it is proposed to build additional small water reservoirs in the mountainous areas as part of flood management. However, construction alone is not enough. The only viable, long-term solution is to transfer water from the upper reaches of the Achelous River, in order to boost the water supply by at least another 300 million m3 per year.

At the level of crops, the reorganization of the agricultural sector is proposed for the production of higher value products. The Dutch solution for the protection of the farmers’ income and the water table of the region, is to implement a gradual, multi-year and coordinated transition from low value crops with high water requirements such as cotton and corn to fruit and vegetable that require (most of the time) less water and space, while at the same time having a higher value generating more income for the producers.