The Middle East’s Fruitful Valley - Jordan

Published Date: 5 April 2007

© IAEA Harvest time in the Araba Valley, finds a worker showing off a prized eggplant. Egyptian and local Jordanian workers pick eggplants for the domestic market. Successful efforts against agricultural pest have led to richer harvest for farmers in Jordan. Abdullah Ja'afreh sees his farm production and income rising. "The Medfly is not the big problem it once was. Ten years ago you would see infestation on guavas. Now not," Mr. Ja'afreh says. He has also cut back spraying pesticides. Fruit and vegetable yields have increased in the Araba Valley since a programme to stop the Medfly's bite with neighbours Israel and the Palestinian Authorities began ten years ago. In a blur across the desert landscape, vegetables are transported to the market. Street vendors trade their wares, in a Jordanian village. A street market selling produce from the Araba Valley. Locals can eat "cleaner", better  fruit and vegetables now that Araba farmers have cut down the use of pesticides, as the Medfly population in the Valley is suppressed. As a part of the growing "science alliance", Isac Medanat went across the border to see first hand what was happening on the Israeli side of the Valley, to speak with his farming neighbours. Visits by farmers like Mr. Medanat were supported by the IAEA to help reduce the initial mistrust clouding the Medfly partnership with Israel in the mid-1990s. Years of cooperation and communication since then have paid off. Agriculture in Jordan reaps 28% of the country's gross domestic product. Suleiman Al-Hewat tends to crops. Growers in the Araba Valley are exporting to their Gulf neighbours and entering Eastern European markets. Farther north, beyond the Araba Valley in Jordan, plans are to expand the science alliance to cover citrus orchards. Faridoon Naimi complains that the Medfly destroys about 25% of his crops on farms located in the country's northern region. Ahmad Mustafa Massadeh sees benefits from the pest-control sterile insect technology (SIT). He's working with Jordan's agricultural authorities to help protect his crops. "The Medfly does not know any borders, it moves easily between the countries. To conquer the pest you need regional cooperation. We've done it successfully in the South, and the farmers in the North want it too," says Mary Bahdousheh. She coordinates the Medfly project in Jordan, as the Head of Agricultural Pest Control. These inquisitive children have the chance to eat better quality, cleaner fruit and vegetables, as the Medfly is steadily wiped out in their region.