A two-week-long frost that has killed crops over a 5,000sqkm area in Jordan is being blamed on global climate change, rapid desertification and shrinking water surfaces locally, according to environmentalists.
Officials from Jordan’s meteorological department said frost appeared this year two months earlier than usual: “Frost usually appears around the end of February or early March. This is the first time it has come so early,” said Abdul Halim Abu Hazim, head of the meteorological department.
Initial results showed many farmers in southern regions had lost 50-80 percent of their products, according to President of the Jordan Farmers Union (JFU) Ahmad Faour. “I am afraid some farmers have lost everything.” Banana farms in the north are believed to have been destroyed. Other crops affected include zucchinis, potatoes, beans and peppers.
The government urged farmers to increase the amount of irrigation water fed to crops. Farmers have also been encouraged to light fires near crops to warm the surrounding area and prevent the onset of frost.
Prime Minister Nader Dahabi on 15 January said his government would compensate all farmers who have been affected. Frost has also damaged over 2,000 water gauges and over 400 water pipes in northern and southern areas. Water Ministry personnel were working round the clock to repair the damage, according to ministry sources.
FoE Middle East is blaming decreasing levels of ground water and over grazing leading to increasing desertification. They say water and vegetation cover would normally protect the land during sub-zero temperatures because “they work as a buffer” against extreme cold.
Feed prices have sky rocketed around the world as feed crops have failed due to extreme drought in places like Australia and North America. The Jordanian government has subsequently dropped feed subsidies and farmers have reacted by pushing their stock out to pasture on mass. The US biofuel drive has also redirected vast quantities of corn away from the feed industry to the ethanol business to feed American cars instead.
It appears machines are more important than people.