Jordan Valley Farmers are experiencing a severe lack of rainfall and urgent steps are needed to expand the area covered by greenery and promote the efficient use of water, environmentalists say.
“The rainfall situation this season is unprecedented. Jordan has not witnessed such a situation for more than 50 years,” Musa Jamaini, secretary-general of the Jordan Valley Authority (JVA), told IRIN by phone.
Ahmed Koufahi, executive director of the Jordan Environment Society, a local NGO, said climate change was to blame for the abnormal weather, adding that he feared the worst was yet to come unless officials adopt “a serious policy”.
“We need to prepare citizens for the worst.” People should not take water for granted, and use it more wisely,” Koufahi said.
Jamaini said JVA – a government body responsible for the development, utilisation, protection and conservation of water resources in the Jordan Valley area – decided in January to ban summer (May-September) agricultural production in 2009.
“We decided to ban summer agriculture, which consists mainly of vegetables and leafy greens, to secure water for drinking and daily use in Amman, Irbid and other cities,” Jamaini said.
He said JVA was committed to providing water during the agricultural season (October to April) in Jordan Valley, the country’s largest irrigated agricultural area.
Jordan does not have lakes or rivers except for the River Jordan which faces water scarcity in its basin
“We are also committed to providing 11,500 hectares of trees with 50-60 percent of their water needs to ensure their survival,” he said.
According to Jamaini, the plan is flexible and will allow farmers to cultivate crops during summer if sufficient rain falls in February.
Jordan does not have lakes or rivers except for the River Jordan which faces water scarcity in its basin. The kingdom’s water supply depends on dams or underground reservoirs that collect water during winter.
“Water scarcity is a reality and we have to deal with it,” Basel Shehadeh, head of the Jordan Valley Farmers’ Association, said. “We cannot assume that water supplies will come to us, as what is available is barely enough to cover main agriculture production.”