Skip to Content

Irrigation Reform and Rehabilitation Supports High-Value Agriculture in Moldova

In Moldova, there is great potential for agriculture to contribute to more widespread food security. Under the former Soviet Union, the country’s fertile soil supported large-scale production of fruit and vegetable crops, but since that time failing irrigation infrastructure has led many smallholder farmers to switch to lower value, rainfed crops like grain and sunflowers. Moldova has also struggled to develop markets that can reliably supply farmers with critical agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilizer.

When Moldova signed a Compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in 2010, one of its primary objectives was to transition the country back to high-value agriculture in order to increase incomes in rural areas. One of the ways MCC is supporting this goal is the construction of 11 centralized irrigation systems chosen for rehabilitation. Two of these irrigation systems, covering more than 1,000 hectares, will be operational this year, with the remaining systems to be completed throughout 2015. In total, these irrigation systems will provide access to water for up to 15,000 hectares of farmland and serve about 6,000 agricultural producers, nearly half of whom are women.

To build local investment and ownership in these updated irrigation systems, MCC is also helping rural communities form and register water users associations that can take over responsibility for operating and maintaining the systems. The associations are legally registered with the Government of Moldova and have elected their own internal officials. Some of the leaders of these groups have been sponsored by MCC to complete study tours to countries such as Portugal and Italy to learn best practices on water management for agriculture.

In addition to helping Moldova get its irrigation infrastructure back on track, MCC is helping smallholder farmers gain access to agricultural finance so they can scale up production and increase sales in high-value crops. All of these activities are being implemented in close partnership with Moldova’s Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry, among other Moldovan institutions.

Through a jointly funded activity with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), about 5,000 participating farmers are also receiving training in advanced agricultural technologies. This USAID/MCC project is also reducing bottlenecks in Moldova’s agricultural value chain through improved sanitary and phytosanitary standards and testing, and by working with the Ministry of Agriculture to change or eliminate restrictive national agricultural policies. The MCC Compact ends in 2015 and efforts are underway to partner with USAID and other donors to provide follow-up support to the 11 water users associations for an additional two years to help ensure their long-term viability and sustainability.

Related Stories