In the Otrar district of the South Kazakhstan region (SKO), 11 thousand hectares of irrigated land, the country's “golden fund”, was threatened with death.
At all times, cotton growing remained a profitable branch of the agricultural sector of SKO. In the successful years, the cotton growers of the region collect about 400 thousand tons of "white gold". Its share of the total gross output of agriculture is 34%. Today, cotton is favored by an increasing number of farms. It is understandable. This is the most invested industry. Cotton cluster is organized in the South Kazakhstan region. Large processing enterprises provide cotton fields with fuels and lubricants, machinery, spare parts for it, mineral fertilizers for the next harvest. In good times, they took raw at 70-75 thousand tenge per ton ($ 522- $ 559 at the official rate of $ 1 = 133.95 tenge). And the price per ton of finished cotton fiber, announced on the international trading stock exchange in Liverpool, ranges from $ 1,700. As you can see, cotton-growing is profitable. It is not surprising that regions that previously did not grow this culture began to be involved in the production of "white gold". Do not escape this temptation and Otrartsy. The beginning did not cause any alarm. In 2000, from 1380 hectares. about two and a half thousand tons of raw material were harvested; the next year, the area was increased almost six times, the crop was more than 14 thousand tons. But in the fall of 2003, farmers were disappointed - the cotton yield dropped sharply. While in the neighboring Chardara district they shot up to 35 centners per circle, the majority of Otrar residents did not leave more than 14.
Why did the land of fertile land become poor in Shaulder? When did it happen? What moment was missed? These problems were raised and effectively addressed by akim Kuanysh Aytakhanov, who led the region in 2003–2005.
If we look at the history, we learn that cotton production is not new to the Republicans. Farming, in particular, the cultivation of raw, still engaged their distant ancestors.
The descendants of medieval farmers returned to the development of the array only in the 30s. last century. They smashed the channels named after Altynbekov and Kenzhaliyev, sowed cotton and unexpectedly gathered a huge harvest. Even farmers from neighboring Uzbekistan, the main cotton-growing republic of the former USSR, came to marvel at him and learn from their experience. The delegation was headed by Yuldash Akhunbabaev himself, the chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Uzbek SSR. The land near the banks of the ancient river was generous, the harvests rich.
During the war years, according to the testimony of old-timers, massive salinization of the Otrar land was observed for the first time. Everything was explained simply: wrongly designed the construction of canals. They were erected on an embankment, and irrigated land stretched below, under it. Therefore, the more intense the water flow was through the channel, the more it was filtered into the soil. This caused evaporation, which in turn led to land salinization. To rid the land of salt, you need to regularly engage in its washing. Nobody did this. The land was simply used. Finally it was salted to the beginning of the 70s. A little earlier, they stopped cultivating cotton. Then they began to develop new areas. The situation repeated. In the late 70s - early 80s, specialists developed new projects. But again, the surface washing of the soil did not save the situation. Later they began to think about a major reconstruction of the canals. But the 91st came - the year of the collapse of the USSR. And it was not before ...
Today, two channels depart from Arys on the territory of the district - Altynbekov and Kokmardan. They are divided into irrigation branches, covering an array of nearly one thousand hectares of arable land. 27 thousand people live here - more than half of the total population of the region. The location of the canals above the level of the irrigated area itself has created a vicious circle that threatens not only the destruction of arable land, but also creates a real threat to the environment. Salt lakes and lakes can be found everywhere. Water accumulates in the basements of hospitals, schools, institutions, homes. Its level rises annually, taking rampant.
At the entrance to Shaulder from the Shymkent side on the right there is a foul-smelling standing swamp. The same ones are located in the basement of the central hospital and district administration.
People are sick of subsidence of salt dust, vegetation dies. According to physicians, gastrointestinal, infectious, skin diseases are common in the region. A lot of regions suffer from diseases of the upper respiratory tract. Women of childbearing age and infants often have anemia and anemia.
In the regional center, Shaulder, there is a park in which not a single tree has grown. A few years ago, Otrar planted young seedlings, began to care for them. But they did not take root on the salty land. According to Aytakhanov’s figurative expression, the accumulation of salt water can be compared with a malignant tumor, which corrodes the earth from the inside and threatens with complete destruction. To save the whole organism, the tumor is known to be cut out. So here - it is necessary to eliminate the salt marshes.
Where do we start?
First of all, akim of the region considers, it is necessary to engage in the drainage of salt lakes. To do this, you should carry out cleaning work on the drainage network with a total length of 755 km. Experts estimate that from every meter it will take up to seven cubic meters of clay - almost a full truck. So, to clear the entire network, you need to make 755 thousand flights. Then, according to the experience of the residents of the neighboring Chardara and Maktaaral districts, it is necessary to take care that the excess water does not stagnate, but goes to Syrdarya, for this to build a drain. It is also necessary to lash the canals to avoid water filtration. And, of course, we cannot do without restoring the 30 once destroyed vertical drainage wells, which provided the outflow of saline into the reservoir.
Only for the preparation of design estimates, it was necessary to have 50 million tenge, which was allocated from the regional budget. Another 800 million of necessary specialists were allocated by the republican budget. In addition, the region is located in the disaster radius of the Aral Sea region and, according to experts, belongs to the pre-crisis zone. Regional leadership made proposals for the region in the republican comprehensive plan to solve the problems of the Aral Sea region. Some of them relate to issues of soil salinization. Of course, for the treatment of the earth, however, like any living organism, it will take time. It may take years.