The TRNC Water and Soil Resources Master Plan was launched on Wednesday with a ceremony.
The ceremony was attended by President Ersin Tatar, Turkish Vice President Cevdet Yılmaz, the Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry İbrahim Yumaklı, the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources Hüseyin Çavuş as well as other state and government officials.
A 50-year master plan to manage the TRNC’s water and soil resources was launched on Wednesday with a ceremony attended by state and government officials.
A slideshow presentation on the project was given outlining the investments as well as work to be carried out by the ministries of the two countries.
Delivering the first opening speech the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hüseyin Çavuş said that the water from Türkiye dubbed the Project of the Century would now be used for agricultural production.
He said that the water collected at the Geçitköy Dam was now reaching almost all corners of the country and that the goal of the project since the beginning was to use it for industry, tourism and agriculture.
Çavuş also pointed out that the importance of food production had become clear once again following the pandemic as well as changing weather patterns due to climate change.
“This project will not only guarantee the food security of the Turkish Cypriot people but will also eliminate the climatic disadvantages of the island and advance agriculture in the TRNC with a correct strategy,” he said.
Çavuş noted that the first water will be provided for the irrigation of 18,000 hectares of citrus orchards starting from Güzelyurt and later expanding to the Mesarya Plain.
The Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, İbrahim Yumaklı, began his remarks by emphasizing the importance of water, which sustains the biological and human activities of all living beings.
He also noted that as of today, with the distribution lines put into service, water has reached all municipalities in the TRNC.
“We are continuing our efforts for water supply. We are aware that the water supply project is of vital importance for the TRNC due to it being an island country with limited resources. Just as we solved the drinking water issue by adhering to President Erdoğan’s words that ‘water is civilization,’ we will also solve the irrigation water issue hand in hand with you, God willing.”
He also mentioned that the 5.7km transmission tunnel for the Güzelyurt and Mesarya plains, supplying irrigation water to 18,730 hectares of land, had already been completed.
Furthermore, Yumaklı announced that the second phase of the transmission line, which will provide irrigation water to the 44km long Mesarya Plain, had been contracted, ensuring that the Mesarya Plain will also have access to water.
Regarding the financial aspect of the project, Yumaklı said, “As the Republic of Türkiye, we will always stand by the TRNC. The total cost of these projects and the projects we will implement as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has reached ₺31bn, and ₺15bn have already been spent. The remaining budget will be allocated to the projects I mentioned.”
Prime Minister Ünal Üstel began his speech with the words, “Water is life, and without water, there is no life,” emphasizing that water is a vital necessity for all humanity and living creatures.
He reminded that Cyprus, being a dry island country, has been struggling with water scarcity for centuries, making the water issue one of the island’s top priorities throughout history.
Üstel recounted that the project to bring water from Türkiye was first mentioned in the 1960s and its foundation laid in 2012 during his party’s term in office being completed in 2015.
Üstel said that the convergence of water with the Güzelyurt plain signifies the preservation of citrus production which has been declining over the years due to drought and salinity.
He stated that this also means the survival of citrus processing factories in the area, continued employment for those working there, and the firm grip of all sectors in the agricultural industry
“In summary, it means the preservation of the ecosystem in the region, which in turn means livelihood, jobs, and preventing the migration of the local population. Citrus production is not only crucial for the region but is also the second-largest export item for the country’s economy, following processed dairy products,” he added.
Also delivering a speech, Turkish Vice President Cevdet Yılmaz, emphasized that the agriculture and food sector is a strategic sector whose importance will never diminish.
He also underscored that in recent years, especially due to global climate change, pandemics, and geopolitical tensions like the Ukraine-Russia conflict, the strategic importance of agriculture and food has become even more pronounced.
Emphasizing the efficient use of water, Yılmaz noted the importance of achieving more production with the same amount of water.
He said that the key is to use water more efficiently, leverage technological capabilities, and create added value by producing more with the same amount of water.
He concluded by stating that with this approach, both Türkiye and the TRNC will enhance planned agricultural infrastructure, improve agriculture, increase agricultural production, boost industrialization, strengthen trade, raise farmers’ incomes, and contribute to economic growth.
President Ersin Tatar began his opening speech by stating that all projects are historic efforts made step by step to integrate the TRNC with the Turkic world and capture the potential in this integration.
He emphasized the importance of political agreements and economic cooperation protocols between the TRNC and Türkiye in reaching this stage, underlining their significance in the relationship between the Turkish Cypriot people and their homeland.
President Tatar stressed their commitment to their relationship with the motherland Türkiye, even though different interpretations may arise at times.
He noted that no financial institution, including the World Bank, would have supported such an initiative, and it was only through the determination and effort that the project progressed step by step, culminating in the engineering marvel of underwater suspended pipelines delivering water.
He said that these mega projects, such as the water project and the electricity and cable project, are changing the perception and image of the TRNC.