Jordan Valley farmers call for compensation after ‘massive’ fires ravage area

(Photo: Jordan News)
(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Earlier this month, a wildfire engulfed 2,000 dunums of wheat fields and citrus orchards in the Jordan Valley, causing massive damage. Now, farmers are demanding that the ministry compensate them for their losses. اضافة اعلان

The Minister of Agriculture Khalid Hunifat told Jordan News at the time that the fires were 10 times greater than previous incidents. He also laid blame on the Israelis.

According to initial reports issued by the area’s directorate of agriculture, the minister said that 32 farmers were affected by the fires, in addition to the loss of irrigation systems, tanks, and pumps.

Mahmoud Abu Hulaihel, a farmer who owns around 185 dunums, said that “more than half of my farm and irrigation systems were burned and damaged. The farm has become black.” 

Wheat fields make up around 30 dunums of his farm, while the remaining area is planted with high quality citrus trees, according to Abu Hulaihel, who added that the land is his only source of income.

The man described the fires as “a massive abyss”.

Hulaihel strongly demanded that the Ministry of Agriculture and the Jordan Valley authority support farmers and enable them to regrow in the threatened area.

The minister of agriculture told Jordan News that the ministry is working hard to support the farmers, and the first step will be to make sure they are compensated for their damages.

The minister added that the ministry will reach out to Israelis on the matter, adding that there is direct coordination with the farmers and the Jordan Valley Authority.

Head of the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature, Razan Zaiter, told Jordan News that the fire caused great damage to plants and spacious areas, describing the fire as systematic action by Israel.

Yahiya Al-Ghazawi, a farmer who inherited citrus trees from his family, said that his farm is located around 80 dunums from the border of the West Bank and occupied Palestine, adding that the wildfires occur almost every two years, leading to damages every time.

Ghazawi added that the recent fires took around 12 hours to abate. “There was not a street leading to the grove area, thus the authorities used firefighting aircraft to put it out” said Ghazawi.  

“What broke my heart for real was a 40-year-old tree that was swallowed by the flames. … We demand compensation; since, in the Jordan valley or the so-called ‘Food Basket,’” we practice agriculture for a living” said Ghazawi, adding he believes that the fires were intentional.  

Zaiter explained that the recursive fire occurs each year at the same time, when the wind is good for the fire to spread to Jordan.

The association has conducted an intensive campaign by providing 1,000 trees and irrigation pipes to farmers, calling the ministry, the private sector, and society to find a solution to the farmers’ problem, according to Zaiter.

She also noted that if the situation is left to worsen, more wildfires are going to rage in the Jordan Valley, causing more suffering for farmers. 

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