Economic Efficiency of Water Use by Irrigated Crops in Al’Azraq Area

Ahmad Moh'd Abu-Awwad, Stephen Blair


Ever-increasing demands for water in Jordan have resulted in large-scale pumping from Al'Azraq groundwater reserves in Eastern Jordan. The level of exploitation significantly exceeds the proven annual natural recharge of 25 million m3 per year. The purpose of this study is to identify existing cropping patterns, determine the crop water requirement, and perform an economic analysis to evaluate for alternatives for water usage. A review of the Ministry of Agriculture data suggests that the dominant crops in AL'Azraq area are: olive, grape, fruit trees, alfalfa, tomato, and barley, representing 96.3% of the total irrigated, cultivated area in AL'Azraq. The total irrigated, cultivated area is 114,995 dunum in 2011, of which 71.3% contain olive, 9.9% grape, 6.3% fruit trees, 4.3% alfalfa, 3.1% tomato, and 1.4% barley. Based on the existing cropping pattern, the annual agriculture water demands are estimated to be more than 172.3 million m3 of water per year (about 7 times the sustainable yield of the aquifer) and the agricultural area continues to grow at an alarming rate. Farmer profits are found to be highly dependent on the cost of irrigation. Based on the information obtained from the Agricultural Credit Corporation, the cost in 2005 was estimated to range between 0.08 JD/m3 for irrigation of olive trees to 0.4 JD/m3 for irrigation of fruit trees. Based on these irrigation costs, estimated profits range from up to about 150 JD/du for field crops to in excess of 1600 JD/du for fruit trees (pomegranates). Olive farming was calculated to actually lose money despite accounting for more than 70 percent of the total agricultural area (and a similar percentage of the total agricultural water demand). Consequently, some farmers abandoned their olive farms. The existing situation reveals that the breakeven irrigation cost is the lowest with the largest crop cultivated area, while crops with the highest breakeven irrigation costs account for the lowest cultivated area


Al'Azraq, Irrigation, Water Use, Economic Efficiency, Breakeven irrigation cost, Cropping Pattern.

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