(28 Nov 2019) LEAD IN:
For tomatoes in the West Bank, it is still summer in November.
Officials from the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Agriculture have implemented measures to mitigate climate change.
This giant metal recipient is a response to climate change.
The pool collects spring water for Ahed Hreibat, a vegetable farmer in the West Bank town of Dura.
He is among a growing number of farmers who are seeing changes in seasons and rainfall.
Hreibat grows spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers.
“Usually tomatoes and cucumbers are summer crops,” he explains.
“Throughout November, they usually don’t yield but with climate change here and the rising temperatures, it’s like summer for the tomatoes.”
A couple of years ago, he noticed the spring he used wasn’t enough to grow his crops during the dry summer season.
So he began collecting the spring water instead of letting it go to waste.
This large metal tank, paid for by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Agriculture, stores the spring water and so Hreibat can use it gradually throughout summer.
“Usually we get the rains in October, but till this day no rain has come to us,” he says.
26 metal tanks were distributed by the Ministry of Agriculture in the Dura area alone to help farmers cope.
“The rains are late, the rising temperatures have affected agriculture in general so the direction is towards projects to cope with climate change,” says Samah Abu Haikal, a director at the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Agriculture.
“Here the timing around farming has changed a little – the amount of rainfall has decreased and since the rainfall amounts have decreased we have to implement projects to save rainwater as much as possible,” she says.
Muhammad Ghanam has also benefitted from harvesting spring and rainwater.
This large pool was a collaboration between Ghanam, international donors and the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Agriculture.
Olive groves, grape orchards and other crops are sustained by it.
“I had the idea to make use of the rainwater and springs that we have here,” says Ghanam.
“These days if we rely on rainwater for agriculture the economic return is very little, but with the use of this water and the drip system the yield is better and it increases the farmer’s income,” he adds.
Further to the South, a more ambitious project has recently been completed.
The Beit el-Roush dam is designed to harvest rainwater and can hold hundreds of thousands of gallons of rainwater.
The dam is a relatively simple barrier erected in a valley.
“Work began on this dam in 2017 and it was completed in 2018. This dam is an earth dam and it has a capacity of 220 thousand cubic meters of water,” says agricultural engineer Nader el-Karaki.
The collected water would then be pumped to nearby farms.
However, it is still empty as there has been no rainfall yet.
“Vegetables will be cultivated during the spring and the summer, the water to sustain the agriculture will come from this dam,” he says.
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