Jordanian crops wiped out by unexpected frosts.


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.

This entry was posted in Biofuels, Climate change, Desertification, Extreme weather, Food & Agriculture, Middle east, Rural communities and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Jordanian crops wiped out by unexpected frosts.

  1. Stephen says:

    Matt drought has little to do with feed orr food price increases around the world. North America had its best harvest ever last year. The real problem was the diversion of 81 million tonnes of grains to the US ethanol industry in 07. And that will increase this year see my article for IPS: Biofuels: Another Good Reason to Hate America

  2. matt says:

    Hi Stephen

    Looking at the points below taken from your article I would agree that certainly relatively speaking the subsidy driven US biofuels market is the largest factor in pushing up food prices world wide. However drought is a very important factor. You may not be aware for example that Australia has had a devastating 10 year drought, the affects of which helped to bring down the Howard government.

    Interesting highlights from Stephen’s article over at his site regards US biofuels;

    ‘The booming U.S. ethanol industry is diverting enormous amounts food into fuel: 81 million tonnes of grain in 2007 and 114 million tonnes this year, equaling 28 percent of the entire U.S. grain harvest, Brown ( president of the Earth Policy Institute ) told IPS.

    U.S. government subsidies for ethanol and biodiesel will be 13 billion dollars this year and will approach 100 billion dollars for the 2006-2012 period, according to a report released last October by the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s Global Subsidies Initiative based in Geneva, Switzerland.

    These subsidies translate into roughly 1.40 dollars to 1.70 dollars per gallon of gasoline equivalent and 2.00 dollars to 2.35 dollars per gallon of diesel equivalent.

    On Dec. 19, President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act 2007, which mandates the use of 36 billion gallons of agrofuels per year by 2022 — a five-fold increase over present levels.

    As wheat, corn, and soybean prices climb, prices of the food products made directly from these commodities such as bread, pasta and tortillas, and those made indirectly, such as pork, poultry, beef, milk, and eggs, are everywhere on the rise. In Mexico, corn meal prices are up 60 percent. In Pakistan, flour prices have doubled. China is facing rampant food price inflation.

    Social unrest over food prices has already started, creating instability in weaker countries, and it will only get worse, Brown predicted.’

  3. the Grit says:

    Hi Stephen,

    Don’t hate the US for our diversion into rash efforts to turn food into car fuel. Rather, you should turn your displeasure toward the radical environmentalists who, over the years, have managed to block all reasonable efforts to expand our energy production (drilling for oil off the coasts and in that National preserve up North, not to mention the total removal of new nuclear power plants from our list of choices) and who have insisted that we have to move to Greener forms of energy, NOW! While I think it’s a shame that professional politicians are so easy to push around, not to mention that it’s a shame to have professional politicians, their over reaction was easy to predict, as I did, and shouldn’t have been any great surprise to the fanatic groups that pushed this agenda. Keep in mind that many of these people would be quite happy if 90% of the current population vanished tomorrow, as that would save some trees.

    Fortunately, our poorly considered rush into making bio-fuels from corn is rapidly working itself out, and in the next few years we’ll move to using more rational crops as the basis for this new industry. Really, given our current rumored economic troubles, even the most liberal Government is going to find it difficult to continue subsidizing ethanol production that results in less than a 5% net energy gain! Still, there’s enough money on the line to insure that more efficient alternatives will quickly be found, making use of marginal land, and returning corn production to its proper place as food.

    On the other hand, this is also an excellent example as to why such a bureaucratic behemoth like the US Government should not be manipulated by anyone, since the results are, at best, unpredictable. Personally, the more I consider this issue, the more I think we (as in the people in the US) need eight years of Ron Paul leading our country, just to let everyone have a time out to consider options.

    the Grit

  4. Stephen says:

    Grit, enviros radical or otherwise have zero power or influence in America and especially in George W’s White House. The radicals driving the biofuel bus are the big grain corporations like ADM, Cargill and seed companies like Monsanto. Follow the money, right? Who profits most from high corn prices? (ps it’s not the farmers)

    Enviros had little to do with the delay in drilling for oil in Arctic either, it is still too expensive for the oil companies.

    I agree it’s shame politicians are easily pushed around but you ought to take another look who really has the influence in Washington.

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