Natural resources and agriculture in the Badia | The Hashemite Fund for Development of jordan Badia

Natural resources and agriculture in the Badia

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 Water

The Jordan Badia contains the principal surface water and groundwater basins in the Kingdom. One of the most important groundwater basins in the area is the Al-Azraq basin, which supplies water for agriculture and drinking purposes to surrounding areas. Unfortunately, consistent overuse of this basin has led to a drop in its water level and a decline its water quality.

 

Figure 2 illustrates the distribution of ground wells in the Jordan Badia, showing 3500 groundwater wells throughout the area. The highest concentrations of wells are found in Al-Azraq basin, followed by the Zarqa and Yarmouk river basins. Wells are providing major cities with drinking water, as well as supplying water for vegetable crops and fruit trees in the irrigated areas of the Badia. The Badia also contains the Disi aquifer, which will be used to supply Jordans capital, Amman, with drinking water after the conclusion of a water conveyance project.

Figure 2: Geographical distribution of groundwater basins and wells in the Jordan Badia.

Regarding surface water, the total watershed area in the Badia is about 67,000 km2.

Regarding surface water, the total watershed area in the Badia is about 67,000 km2. Rainfall records showed that the total rainfall amounts within the Badia range, on average, between 5 to 7 billion cubic meters of water annually, while the total surface water that is actually harvested and utilized is only about 90 million cubic meters annually. Consequently, better exploitation of surface water and rainwater in the Jordan Badia is a top priority, and will influence the overall development of the area. Therefore, improving and expanding water harvesting techniques throughout the Badia is an important aspect of the HFDJBs development plans.

 

It is worth mentioning that water harvesting has long been practiced in the Badia numerous ancient, archaeological pools show how water was once collected and subsequently harvested. Figure 3 shows the most important locations for water harvesting in Jordan Badia, including dams, older collection pools, cisterns, and hafeer (small earth dams that collect rainwater intended for livestock).

Figure 3: Geographical distribution of surface water basins and water harvesting locations in the Jordan Badia.

  Agriculture

Many parts of the Badia are cultivated through rain-fed and irrigated agriculture. The annual revenues of agricultural activities in the Badia are approximately 90 million JD. Fruit trees and vegetables crops are concentrated in the northern Badia, where vegetables constitute around 81% of total crops. The main crops grown are tomatoes, watermelon, peppers, eggplant, and zucchini. Most crops are grown in areas north of Mafraq near the Syrian border, East of Al-Azraq, the Um Alrasas areas, and the Disi-Mudawara.

 

In regards to livestock in the Badia, sheep constitute the majority at approximately 85% of the livestock population. In particular, this includes Al-Awasi sheep, who have easily adapted to the environment of the Jordan Badia. Sheep and goats represent important sources for income through milk, meat, and wool production.

 

Open rangelands in the Badia serve as pastures for sheep and goat herds, and also used to be important grazing grounds for the livestock. Unfortunately, over-grazing and frequent droughts accelerated the degradation of the Badia rangelands, and reduced their contribution to feed sources. The HFDJB is working on several projects which will seek to rehabilitate rangeland areas of the Badia through the cultivation and provision of forage and fodder crops. Additionally, providing ranchers with feed may reduce pressure on rangelands and give critically-needed time to allow these depleted lands to recover.

 

The HFDJB started the National Project of Fodder Cultivation in 2008 at Al-Mohammadyah in Maan, and is expecting to implement a second phase of the project by the end of 2011. The HFDJB is also considering expanding this initiative to other locations and is seeking strategic partners and national-level projects to help transfer the projects successes to other parts of the Badia.

 Minerals and rocks                                                    

Many studies have indicated that the Badia is rich in several minerals that have potential for development and investment. The northern Badia is rich in basalt, while the southern Badia is rich in granite, sandstone, kaolin, sand silica, and other minerals. Throughout the Badia, there are abundant deposits of bentonite, chalk, copper, diatomite, dolomite, gold, gypsum, oil shale, limestone, sand and silica, volcanic tuff, zircon, and phosphate. The HFDJB encourages further studies to pinpoint these deposits (and additional ones), and to determine the feasibility of mineral exploitation in the Badia. Such efforts can increase the Badias contribution to the national GDP, as well as alleviate poverty by creating job opportunities for local inhabitants.

The below table summarizes what key industries can capitalize on the minerals present in the Badia. Currently, mineral exploitation, mining operations, and industrial activities are focused in the southern Badia, and they can be expanded to encompass the entire region.

 

 


Mineral


Suggested industry


Current industry


Basalt


Rockwool


Building and construction


---


Bentonite


Oil Refining


Wastewater Treatment


---


Chalk


Cement


Agriculture


---


Copper


Electronics and electrics


Buildings


---


Diatomite


Chemicals


 


---


Dolomite


Glass


Ceramics


---


Gold


Jewelry


 


---


Gypsum


Cement


Glass


---


Kaolin


Cement


Ceramics


Cement


Ceramics


Oil shale


Crude oil production


Power


Crude oil production


Power


Limestone


White cement
Magnesia


Calcium carbonate


White Cement
Magnesia


Carbonate
Calcium


Sand and silica


Glass
White cement


Ceramics


Silica fine


Cement
White


Wind volcanic


Cement
Light concrete


Agriculture


---


Zircon


Metal industry


 


---


Phosphate


Fertilizer


Chemicals


Fertilizer


Chemicals