Vrbas Project: Flood damage mitigation techniques for crops presented to agricultural advisors

April 5, 2019

Increasingly frequent floods, land erosion, landslides, frosts, storms, hail and droughts have adverse effects on agricultural land and crop yields. Within the UNDP project Technology transfer for climate resilient flood management in Vrbas River Basin, funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), professional training courses were organized in Banja Luka, Sarajevo, Teslić and Zenica on the importance of adequate agricultural land management to reduce flood risk.

In the past three months, 130 representatives of the line Entity Ministries, cantonal services and 36 municipalities were trained in the field of climate change impact on agricultural land degradation and decrease in crop yields, the connection of these processes with flood events and the measures that can be undertaken in agricultural practice to mitigate flood risk.

Niko Gužvić

When it comes to the experience of the Municipality of Srbac, Ninko Gužvić, senior specialist for agriculture stated: “Flooding on Vrbas does not last long, however there is a pronounced stripping away of soil material and the change of the river course, which represents the biggest problem. The floodplain of Srbac cannot be significantly regulated, but when it comes to agriculture it would be helpful to regulate the canal network and ensure late sowing. Under the UNDP project, we have regulated the watercourses Povelic, Ina and Kosolinac, thus tackling the flooding in the city zone of ​​Srbac. These activities should continue in order to protect farm households and production.”

Prof. Mihajlo Marković, full professor at the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Banja Luka and prof. Hamid Čustović, full professor at the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Science of the University of Sarajevo, presented practical methods and techniques for flood damage mitigation on crops, as well as techniques in agricultural production that can reduce the risk of floods. The participants were given guidelines and recommendations on preferable and undesirable measures on agricultural parcels, in relation to the position of the municipality in view of the river course.

Zineta Vuković

Zineta Vuković, agricultural specialist in the Municipality of Bihać pointed out the following: “The embankments in our region are obsolete and need to be repaired, and in addition, cleaning of the existing canals and construction of new ones is required, as well as improved drainage. Agricultural and technical measures in agriculture could contribute to reducing the amount of water that inflows in the main watercourse, which would, in synergy with other measures, significantly contribute to the reduction of flood risk and damage to agriculture.”

As part of the Project, surveys were organized with municipalities, which attended the training courses, so as to gain an insight into their experience with natural disasters, with a focus on flood events, the number of registered farmers, total damage to agriculture from floods, percentage of flooded lands, frequency of flood events, insurance of agricultural production from floods, as well as the activities and measures taken in municipalities to reduce flood risk.

In the coming period, a Flood Risk Management Plan will be drawn up for the Vrbas River, which will also define the measures for agriculture. UNDP's project Technology transfer for climate resilient flood management in Vrbas River Basin is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH, RS Ministry of Spatial Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology, Entity Ministries in charge of water management and Civil Protection Administrations, and with 14 municipalities in the Vrbas River Basin.