Farm visits

Salam, Lydia, also known as ´the agronomist´ is writing here. As I have a passion for agriculture I am really interested in the practical Jordanian food production which made me end up here at the Jordan Peace Valley. Just a warning: in the following I will elaborate on the agricultural tasks here on the farm and an overview of the farms I had the opportunity to visit in the area.

For those who do not know about the scale of Mohammed’s farm, it is a rather small organic dates, vegetables and beans producing farm. The last few days we all spent weeding the crops, as the rain is favouring the growth of khubeze and other weeds. Agriculture in Jordan is facing severe problems which can even lead to yield reductions of more than 50 per cent. The biggest issue is water scarcity. Therefore the competition for water is the main reason for dying plants.

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Whilst weeding I observed the difference in the root physiology between khubeze and tomatoes. Khubeze is rooting deeper and therefore advantaged in terms of water acquisition.

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Besides that I felt really satisfied saving the vegetables. However, khubeze is a weed suited for human consumption. Rich in iron and other health supporting compounds you can serve it like spinach or in a salad. As I am the hashtag-master I would consider that as a #peacefulpestcontrol. You free the vegetables and you can eat the weed.

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It is a pleasure to see them recovering and enjoying their space above and below ground and it is also great to prepare the khubeze together and enjoy the common enemy served with tomatoes. Okay, probably I start to bore you with my scientific rambling or you consider me crazy with my exaggerated excitation about weeds. So now another joyful event happening these days.

Helena, Mia and me had the opportunity to join the delegation of the majors of the Jordanian municipality of Shuneh and the Palestinian of Jericho on their tour around Shuneh. In order to make the two cities working closer together the agreement of twinning the two cities got signed yesterday. To celebrate this official collaboration and to introduce the neighbouring city local farms were visited.

First we got some refreshments at the King Abdullah Palace until we continued to the company Green Farmers. On 10 ha they produce a huge variety of herbs which get exported to the U.K and the Middle East. Under controlled atmosphere in highly technological greenhouses mint, dill, rosemary, parsley and tarragon and many other delicate herbs are growing. Jonathan Hanna, the quality manager told us that around 35% of the national basil market in the U.K is covered with his plants. Among the customers are supermarket chains like coop and Tesco.

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Next stop of our small agricultural excursion was the Farah Fish Farm. Leaded by the strong smell of fish and brackish water we made our way through the dry landscape. Having a look around, you would not expect fishes to live there as everything is sandy and stony. However, Ziad Atalla is running there successfully a fish farm producing more than 100 tons of sweet water fish annually.

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Nile tilapia and red tilapia are here bred, fed and later sold. The water which is not used anymore is eutrophicated (enriched with nutrients) and a suitable fertiliser for the farmers around. Ziad is providing it for free to the surrounding farmers with a pipeline. So you can call it a free-fertiliser-fountain.p1040422

The final destination was a date farm of Mahmood Abu Ayash, one of Mohammad’s friends who has 4200 date trees on 30 hectares. Mahmood is growing eight different date varieties. Majul is the most yielding crop with around 110 kg of fruits per year and tree.

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