by Hana Namrouqa | Aug 10, 2012

AMMAN — Sufficient amounts of water have been secured for Jordan Valley farmers as they start preparing their land to cultivate winter crops, officials said on Thursday.

A total of 100 million cubic metres (mcm) is required for the irrigation of winter crops, locally referred to as orweh tishrineyeh, according to Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) Secretary General Saad Abu Hammour.

“We are prepared to provide farmers with their needs of water during orweh tishrineyeh from various water resources including dams which currently hold 77.4mcm,” Abu Hammour told The Jordan Times yesterday.

Orweh tishrineyeh is a local agricultural term that refers to the period between September and the end of the year during which farmers plant vegetables in the Jordan Valley. Different kinds of vegetables are cultivated during this period, including cucumber, tomato, eggplant and zucchini.

During orweh tishrineyeh, farmers also rely on rainwater for irrigating their winter crops, however, the JVA will increase the amount of water allocated for irrigation if the rainy season comes late this year.

The first rainfall of the wet season is usually witnessed in mid-September or early October, with the rain usually continuing until February, according to meteorologists.

Agriculture Ministry Spokesperson Nimer Haddadin said that farmers are currently preparing their lands and greenhouses for the winter crops.

“The farmers are clearing the remnants of the last agricultural season from their land, after which they will start to sterilise the soil,” Haddadin told The Jordan Times.

A total of 150,000 dunums are expected to be cultivated this year, he said, underscoring that the ministry is seeking to open new markets for local produce.

“Since we hope for a good agricultural season, we urge farmers to diversify the types of crops they plant and avoid growing the same kind of crop to maximise profit and benefits,” the agriculture official noted.

Approximately 360,000 dunums in the Jordan Valley are cultivated and irrigated. The Kingdom relies mainly on rainwater, but only 1.1 per cent of its total area receives an average of 400-600 millimetres of rain, according to the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.

Around 91 per cent of Jordan’s total area of 97,000 square kilometres is situated in arid areas with an annual rainfall average of 50-200 millimetres, while 2.9 per cent of the country’s land is categorised as semi-arid.