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Helping Jordanian farmers save water and money

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

A major multi-stakeholder project is helping farmers in two Jordanian governorates save water resources and cut down on electricity bills by introducing water-efficient technologies.

Under the five-year project called the Water Innovation Technologies, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) is working with Mercy CorpsJordan River FoundationRoyal Scientific Society, and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) to improve water use efficiency on farms in Mafraq Governorate and Azraq district, Zarqa Governorate. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the project also involves the private sector, specifically suppliers of water-saving technologies and service providers.

ICBA is building the capacity of suppliers and service providers to deliver customized solutions to farmers to save energy required for pumping and water for irrigation. Moreover, ICBA is helping to stimulate the demand for water-saving technologies and practices by influencing the behavior of pioneer farmers, which is achieved through data-driven decision-making processes for irrigation scheduling. As a result, farmers are reducing water consumption on their farms and associated costs.

The project started producing positive results as one of the farmers, Mr. Abu Kishek, had succeeded in saving about 158,490 cubic meters of water since March 2018. What is more, he also saved about 20,422 Jordanian dinars (around 28,804 USD) on his electricity bills between April 2018 and January 2020. His farm has now become a popular site among neighboring farm owners who want to learn about water-efficient technologies.

For example, Mr. Fadel Al Mughairbi, a farm owner in Mafraq Governorate, decided to upgrade the irrigation system on his two farms from a virojet system (140 liters/hour) to two pressure compensating online emitters (24 liters/hour). His farms cover an area of 76 hectares. Before installing the new irrigation system, he used to lease his neighbor’s well for two days per week and pump water from his own well and his neighbor’s well for 22 hours each day. After installing the new irrigation system, he noticed that water from his well was actually enough. So he canceled the lease agreement with his neighbor and consequently saved money.

According to Mr. Fadel Al Mughairbi, his investment in the upgraded irrigation systems resulted in saving 619,630 cubic meters of water and 79,843 Jordanian dinars (around 112,614 USD) on his electricity bills from April 2018 to January 2020.

The project aims to help more farmers and target other actors in the sector in Jordan. The goal is to save about 18.5 million cubic meters of water by 2022 through addressing constraints in the adoption of innovative water-saving technologies in agriculture and households. Lack of knowledge and information and access to appropriate financing are regarded as critical constraints.

As part of the project, ICBA is now exploring new water-saving interventions, which include the introduction of soil amendment techniques and climate-resilient crops such as quinoa that consume less water compared to staple crops.