Heat wave bad news for farmers amid water crisis

Jordan Valley farmers are expecting the worse amid a heatwave and water scarcity. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Jordan Valley farmers are expecting the worse amid a heatwave and water scarcity. (Photo: Shutterstock)
AMMAN — Stakeholders are warning that the current heat wave and expected rise in temperatures over the coming 10 days will exacerbate an already dire water situation for farmers and food growers.اضافة اعلان

"With the expectation of a higher temperature of over 40 degrees for the next 10 days, this is one of the biggest challenges for all the farmers," said Methqal Zinati, the chairman of the Trade Union of Independent Farmers and Agriculture Workers in an interview with Jordan News.

 Zinati asserted that every bit of water counts, and that cut-off to much-needed irrigation during the hot summer months is “unacceptable and creates even more stress and harm to already struggling farmers.”

"I don't think there is any long-term solution to our problems except for the desalination of sea water," said Zinati.

Zinati started to see the anticipated aggravation in the country's agricultural breadbasket: The Jordan Valley.

"Many farmers will not be able to repay their loans or make it through the season," confirmed Zinati.

Last year, President of the Jordan Valley Farmers Union Adnan Khaddam, in statements to media, estimated that over 20,000 farmers were “in debt and wanted by law enforcement agencies.”                                                                                                                                                                                      
The current water deficit in Jordan has been worsened by a lack of rainfall this past rain season, leaving dams at a minimum level fit for use. Observers, stakeholders, experts, and relevant international agencies agree that Jordan remains among the top five water-scarce nations in the world.

According to statements from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation Spokesman Omar Salameh, the Kingdom plans to construct a Red Sea Desalination Plant operating in the southern city of Aqaba, to provide the drought-hit region with critical drinking water.

The JD1 billion project, which is set to be completed by 2026, will "provide water of approximately 250-300 million cubic meters per year," said Salameh, in an interview with Jordan News.

The project will be a relief for farmers in the long run, but with the plan nearly 4 years away from completion, the only solution is to continue relying on the drilling of wells. Although the short fix is "particularly expensive especially in the light of the decline in the amount of groundwater," Salameh ensures that the ministry is upholding the needs of the farmers in this crucial time.

"The ministry has expedited the excavation of a number of wells in various areas as well as the hiring of private wells to compensate for shortages and some improvements in the grids to transport water from higher water-available areas to less water available areas. While increasing the capacity of some water sources and renting special tanks," added Salameh.

Earlier this week, Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Al-Najjar addressed the issue-at-hand at a Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Water, and Irrigation meeting, explaining that “there is a decrease in the quantities of water stored in the northern dams, indicating that in general the dams in the Kingdom are significantly at a lower capacity this year compared to previous years, which affects the quantities of water available for drinking and agricultural purposes."

The minister's statements insinuated that the water insufficiency will be felt by households, factories, and the agricultural sector. The fallout of this distress will be felt the hardest for rural Jordan and the farming community, which will have a direct impact on agriculture and food security.

Dams across the Kingdom held roughly 146 million cubic meters of water, representing 43.4 percent of their total capacity, by the close of this year's winter season, as previously reported by Jordan News. The meager numbers signified an impending strain for the year's harvest season.

The government has called on the public to remain conscious of their water usage and to only use household water for intended purposes.

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