A Moscow-based development agency has agreed to lend Armenia $40 million for a further rehabilitation of the country’s rundown irrigation networks planned by its government.
The Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development (EFSD) approved the release of the low-interest loan repayable in 20 years during Finance Minister Gagik Khachatrian’s weekend trip to the Russian capital.
In an ensuing statement, the Armenian Finance Ministry said the money will be used for refurbishing canals and modernizing equipment supporting them. The statement did not specify the rural communities that will benefit from the project.
The EFSD is a special anti-crisis fund that was set up by the governments of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in 2009.
Armenia’s Soviet-built irrigation networks have already absorbed considerable capital investments in the last several years. That includes a $177 million reconstruction of 6 major canals, 17 water pumping stations and the water drainage system of the southern Ararat and Armavir provinces, which was financed by a U.S. government agency, the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The project was completed in 2011.
Later in 2011, the World Bank disbursed an $18 million loan for further irrigation upgrades in the country, which were supposed to benefit about 90,000 farmers.
A lack of irrigation water has been one of the main problems hampering the development of the Armenian agricultural sector.