Drought-hit Jordan faces tough choices to save agriculture – The National

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Brown, garbage-crammed water circulates slowly alongside an irrigation canal shut to Jordan’s border with Israel.

Shepherds by the facet of the channel use The identical water For his or her sheep.

“The water has been getting dirtier and its diploma decrease,” says one shepherd, Samer Mansour, 24. “It is our solely supply of water.”

We misplaced A pair of of the aquifers As a Outcome of of over pumping

Professor Jawad Al Barkri

When work – with US funding – started on the East Ghor canal Inside the Nineteen Fifties, the channel was principally fed by the Jordan River, its Yarmouk tributary and rainwater.

By The objective enchancment on the showcase infrastructure enterprise accomplished Inside the late Nineteen Eighties, dealt with wastewater had Discover your self to be the canal’s primary supply.

Speedy inhabitants progress, over-farming, geopolitical modifications and extra frequent droughts have compounded Jordan’s water factors.

The 110-kilometre canal originates in northern Jordan’s Yarmouk River Basin and feeds huge parts of the Jordan Rift Valley. The valley is A very dry area, of which many parts are under sea diploma, and accounts for one third of the 100,000 hectares of irrigated land Inside The dominion.

The water feeding the canal was comparatively plentiful earlier than Israel occupied the West Financial institution in 1967, consolidating its administration of the River Jordan. Neighbouring Syria has growingly dammed the Yarmouk since.

Better-extreme quality water, An monumental proportion of which comes from Israel beneath the 1994 Wadi Araba Treaty, has been diverted Prior to now decade To fulfill consuming requirements in Amman.

The shepherds, like Mr Mansour, acquire water from the canal Freed from cost, as do the area’s farmers.

However its declining water extreme quality, and the smaller portions being allotted to clients, have contributed to A purpleuction in farm yields.

Farm proprietor Abdulhadi Youssef says thOn the final good yr for his tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and aubergines was 2013.

Mr Youssef grows his crops in 50 pfinalic greenhouses shut to the canal. His farm’s output has declined steadily to 60 per cent of its levels eight yrs in the past.

Water from the canal Not comes Daily, and its low extreme quality has affected the soil.

The season, from September to April, Is 2 months shorter, And a quantity of completely different neighbouring farms have gone bankrupt, he says.

“As quickly the climate heats up, the crops go dangerous,” he says.

His tomato harvest has declined from 900 bins yrly to between 350 to 500 bins.

“Subsequent yr It is going to be worse,” he says.

At 100 cubic metres Annually, Jordan’s per capita share of water Is Amongst The numerous lowest On the earth.

Rainfall, which averages about 100 millimetres a yr, May even be Amongst The numerous lowest.

In Jerash, north of Amman, farmer Rateb Silwan expects a poor season this yr Due to drought.

He forecasts that hIs 2-hectare plot will Usher in 600 to 800 litres of olive oil, compapurple with 1,200 litres final yr. The similar plot used To usher in shut toly 2,000 litres Inside the Nineteen Seventies.

“Droughts have been virtually Unprecedented then. Now they happen every 4 yrs or so,” he said.

Some farmers Inside the Jordan Rift Valley, who can afford the funding, have switched from greens So fars.

Dates eat much less water and Usher in Further money Due to demand from the Gulf.

“If there was extra water Inside the canal there would have been extra date farming for constructive,” says Hassan Al Sawalha, who manages a date farm Inside The world.

However agriculture expanded confacetrably Prior to now decade Inside the desert areas above the Jordan Valley.

Farms above the Jordan Valley are fed by groundwater.

Olive, pevery and almond farms straddle desert roads from the north to the south of The dominion.

These desert areas are principally inhabited by tribes That are a bedrock of assist for the Hashemite monarchy that has dominated Jordan As a Outcome of The dominion was based with British assist 100 yrs in the past.

Based mostly on official decides, A lot of the wells in tribal areas are illegal. Knowledge reveals thOn theft and leaks account for 30 per cent of losses Inside the water community Yearly.

Last week, Irrigation Minister Mohammad Al Najjar said The dominion’s groundwater “is being exhausted”.

He steepurple Away from figuring out The exact areas with illegal wells, saying solely that farmers “caught purple-handed are transferpurple to the judiciary”.

The quick reply, the minister said, is To primarytain out an as-but unrealised plan to desalinate water from the Red Sea and pump it north.

Agriculture accounts for 5 per cent of Jordan’s gross home product, whereas consuming about 55 per cent of the nation’s current water.

Neverthemuch less, most of the water eatd Inside the Jordan River Valley is dealt with water, in distinction to unsustainable groundwater consumption Inside the extremelands.

Jawad Al Barkri, agriculture professor On the College of Jordan says groundwater is being pumped at double the protected yield of 300 million cubic metres a yr, A minimal of.

“We misplaced A pair of of the aquifers As a Outcome of of over pumping,” he says.

Jordan’s insurance coverage policies of “growing agribusiness and utilising desert areas To current meals” Want to be altepurple, he says.

Prof Al Bakri says worsening water extreme quality might eradicate 5,000 acres of citrus farming Inside the Jordan Rift Valley.

He is working with the German Company for Worldwide Co-operation, or GIZ, on a plan To Scale again The measurement of irrigated areas whereas growing yields.

Although the plan takes into confacetration native circumstances and divides The dominion into agricultural zones, Rather than extra uniform insurance coverage policies overlaying the nation, it nonethemuch less requires authorities diktat.

Prof Al Bakri says effectivity Could be achieved “by adopting relevant cropping patterns and studying demand” for every zone.

“Why Can we now have large portions of tomatoes? There are completely different, strategic crops,” he says, suggesting potatoes, carrots and onions Instead.

He additionally suggested that farmers in sure areas might transfer in the direction of livestock or medicinal oils, which need much less irrigation, And fewer land, than completely different extensively grown crops.

“Water poverty in Jordan is extreme,” he says.

Up So far: September Twenty sixth 2021, 1:24 PM

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