The first batch of a total 21 irrigation projects worth 1.6 billion euros was announced this week by Agricultural Development & Food Minister Spilios Livanos at an event in Athens attended by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
“We are implementing a massive investment program in land improvement infrastructure, corresponding in importance to regional development to that of airports and national highways,” Livanos said of the program dubbed “Ydor 2.0.”
According to a statement by the ministry, this is Greece’s biggest investment program in irrigation in the last 50 years.
Irrigation “is one of the greatest problems for the agricultural sector, as the irrigation networks are out of date, resulting in unmet irrigation needs, high irrigation costs, water waste and the qualitative downgrading of irrigation water,” he noted.
The 21 works revealed this week are split into three packages and will be completed via public-private partnerships (PPP). Their average operational life is assessed at 25 years, and their cost (operation and construction included) during that period is estimated at €4.07 billion.
They will cover over 1,300 square kilometers (130,000 hectares) nationally, while the first eight projects to be built are expected to benefit 36,130 farmers.
“These projects are of top significance for a country that invests in its primary sector and which wants to alleviate stress among farmers over the essential component of agricultural production, which is water,” Mitsotakis said in his address. “They mustn’t have to resort to expensive drilling, which – as you know – often carries a significant environmental footprint,” he pointed out.
Mitsotakis also referred to “wetlands created by projects built in other decades in the 20th century” that brought developmental benefits with them. Some, he said, “became tourist destinations and destinations of particular environmental sensitivity.”
The projects will be financed by the Recovery and Resilience Fund, the European Union’s agricultural development program in the upcoming funding periods, and the national Public Investments Program.
The first batch contains eight projects around Greece that will have to be implemented with specific timetables and delivered by the end of 2025.