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24-03-2016

Agriculture in the Dead Sea Region by Ssebatunzi Sharifu

dead sea agricultureWe welcome back all the Agrostudies students who visited the Dead Sea last week. No doubt you all enjoyed, I can view your gallery and the pictures speak for themselves.
Upon reaching the Dead Sea, one’s mind may be taken by the magical waters of the sea, and questions like ‘how is it be possible for my body to float on the water?’ The excitement may be a distraction and prevent you from noticing some other important aspects.
Did you notice the agricultural activities taking place in the area? Agriculture in the Dead Sea area is concentrated in five or six cooperative settlements that use of the most modern technologies to derive maximum yield from the small area where agriculture is possible.

Kibbutz Ein Gedi
The largest and most important of these settlements is Kibbutz Ein Gedi. Today the kibbutz’s agricultural activities focus on Date groves and grow of vegetables in greenhouses.
The settlement was founded in 1956 at the top of a cliff overlooking the sea, constantly proving that a little water, motivation and imagination are enough to make the desert bloom, even in a salty land.

Facing the Difficult Conditions
Along the length of the Dead Sea agricultural potential is restricted to small plots, mostly in the stream estuaries and alluvial fans. To the north of the Dead Sea and even more so to the south, there are flat, relatively large land areas. However, in the south the soil salinity is high and the water table is high, causing problems of drainage. Cultivation of dates, long known for their adaptability to salty soils, partially solved the problem.

Intensive use of the land over large areas has become possible today thanks to the progress of agricultural research and the application of advanced techniques based on matching the crop to the various degrees of salinity.
Moshav Neot Hakikar
Located south of the Dead Sea’s southern basin is, in fact, a field laboratory studying agricultural conditions on the Sodom plain.
The water resources in the region are limited and as the majority of it cannot be used for drinking, and most of it is not suitable for agriculture either, it is most important to conserve and control the use of the water that is available.
The drip irrigation method, that was adopted and refined in Israel, provides a fitting answer to problems of this kind. The method, which controls the dripping of water through perforations in a hose placed over the base of a plant, saves about 50% of the water consumed through the usual irrigation method. Furthermore, it helps overcome the problem of evaporation and the rise of salt content in the soil that results from this evaporation.
It is possible to irrigate with salty water, which was considered unsuitable in the past for agriculture. When this method is used in conjunction with fertilization through the drip system, it leads to success.
Most of the agricultural land in the Dead Sea area is used for winter vegetable crops, partially with the aid of plastic coverings. This allows the farmers to have their products ready for the market a few weeks earlier than they would without it.
The rest of the land is used primarily for date groves, some subtropical orchards and fish ponds.
Because of the serious limitations on agricultural resources, the settlements are forced to supplement their economies through additional activities, the most important of these being tourism. Tourist and vacationing facilities exist and more are being planned on all the agricultural settlements in the Dead Sea region.
Therefore, even with all the limitations we learned about, people in the region still find solutions and generate income.

This brings us to conclude that man’s disabilities can become his opportunities, enjoy your internship friends.

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