AMMAN — The Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) plans to raise the tariff on irrigation water after consulting with all stakeholders, JVA Secretary General Saad Abu Hammour said on Tuesday.
“The price of irrigation water will be raised but it is not going to happen this year. The rise in the water tariff will be accompanied by improvements, mainly raising farmers’ water shares,” Abu Hammour highlighted.
The distribution of irrigation water to farmers in the Jordan Valley will be improved starting next year, when the Disi Water Conveyance Project starts operating, he noted.
The JVA official underscored that any future rise in irrigation water tariffs will not affect small farmers who cultivate only one or two agricultural units.
“The authority will coordinate with the Jordan Farmers Union, the water users associations in the Jordan Valley and the Jordan Valley Farmers Union before taking any decision to increase the water tariff,” he said.
Water experts and representatives of donor agencies supporting the water sector previously called for the prices of irrigation water to be reviewed, attributing part of the Kingdom’s chronic water shortage to the low tariffs imposed on water used for irrigation.
With agriculture accounting for more than 64 per cent of total water use in Jordan while contributing only 3 per cent to the gross domestic product, experts said farmers do not appreciate the value of water because it is cheap, leading to overuse and waste.
The Water Authority of Jordan charges farmers pumping from private wells nothing for the first 150,000 cubic metres (cm), JD0.005 per cubic metre between 150,001cm and 200,000cm, and JD0.060 for every cubic metre over 200,000, according to a report prepared by USAID on the water crisis in Jordan.
The report, issued in 2009, noted that the implementation of this fee structure in 2002 caused an increase in agricultural water use as farmers sought to take advantage of the higher free water limit.
Water experts called for increasing the tariffs in order to encourage farmers to adopt more efficient irrigation methods and switch to higher-value crops.