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Volume 34, Number 5September/October 1983

In This Issue

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The Greening of the Arab East

The Progress

In some areas of the Arab East, the green revolution is well underway. One area is the Jordan Valley. Others, surprisingly, are in the Arabian Peninsula.

Agricultural advancement in Jordan is not particularly unusual since this country is part of the famous Fertile Crescent, the arc of arable land stretching from the Mediterranean to the Arabian Gulf. But the greening of Arabia is definitely surprising since the Peninsula has only a few areas where crops can survive, let alone thrive. Last year, however, in a remarkable demonstration of what money, technology and modern management can accomplish, market gardeners in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were growing tons of tomatoes and cucumbers in the desert, and in Saudi Arabia farmers grew $1.5 billion worth of crops - achieving nearly 50 percent self-sufficiency in wheat and near self-sufficiency in dairy products, self-sufficiency in eggs, and a surplus in dates.

Such results, of course, do not come cheaply. To achieve them, Saudi Arabia has invested billions of dollars in agricultural equipment, fertilizer plants, expert assistance and new, costly farming techniques by which crops can be grown in what is essentially sand. Its farmers, furthermore, have tapped large quantities of the kingdom's most precious resource: underground water.

In view of such costs - and huge surpluses of food in Europe and America - some skeptics have questioned the wisdom of the Saudi agricultural drive. But this view ignores the Saudi government's wish to cut the kingdom's massive food import bill - $6.7 billion in 1982 - and reduce the country's dependence on imported food that political and economic developments far beyond its borders might affect at any moment. To secure an adequate home-grown food supply for the future, therefore, the Saudi government is placing great emphasis on farming - spending $2.4 billion on agricultural development in its Third Five Year Development Plan (1980-85) and offering an unusually attractive package of incentives to private farmers.

The government, for example, distributes farmland and irrigation water, pays to fly cows into the country, subsidizes 30 per cent of the cost of poultry and dairy farming equipment and 50 per cent of fertilizer and animal feed, offers various types of interest-free loans on agricultural projects, and buys rice, corn, millet, barley and dates from farmers at guaranteed prices.

One decisive subsidy in shaping Saudi agricultural output is the price paid for wheat by the state Grain Silos and Flour Mill Organization (GSFMO) - currently about $1,000 a ton. Roughly six times the world market price, this subsidy has helped boost Saudi wheat production from 3,000 tons in 1977 to more than 500,000 tons in the 1983 season.

Saudi Arabia, surprisingly, is also doing well in dairy farming. Although few enterprises may seem as difficult as raising cows in the desert, the average yield of some Saudi herds compares favorably with those in Europe, and local production now meets nearly 70 percent of the country's dairy needs. Saudi officials, furthermore, estimate that by the end of 1985 the kingdom will have 30 major dairy farms -double the present number - with 40,000 cows producing 100,000 tons of milk a year.

One of the most ambitious dairy projects so far is the Saudi Arabian Agriculture and Dairy Company (SAADCO). Located at al-Kharj, 95 kilometers from Riyadh (59 miles), SAADCO is the largest integrated dairy farm in the Middle East - complete with over 12,000 cows and 2,500 hectares of newly irrigated land (6,178 acres) to produce fodder, and on-site milk processing plants.

The 60-kilometer-square SAADCO estate (23 miles-square) has been described by one agribusiness executive as "almost surreal." On what was barren desert less than four years ago, luxuriant green alfalfa now grows at the rate of a crop every three weeks -six in summer - and healthy Holstein-Frisian cows produce 100,000 liters of milk a day (26,400 gallons).

The cows are kept in open sand corrals with canopies to shade them, sprinklers to keep them cool and some incredibly sophisticated technology: computers to monitor the herd's overall performance and provide details on each aspect of its daily life, and milking machines that in effect have two "speeds" - one a gentle massage, the other rapid milking - both automatically controlled by the cow's own physiological response.

From the milking sheds, the milk is piped through a cooling plant and then ferried by tanker to a highly automated on-site dairy, which at full capacity can process 75 tons a day of milk products: pasteurized milk, yoghurt, labneh (fermented milk), white cheese and ice cream. These products are delivered by a fast fleet of refrigerated trucks to distribution centers in Riyadh, Jiddah and Dammam. Poultry operations, elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, meanwhile provide the domestic market with 80 million chickens a year, 29 per cent of national consumption, and 1.1 billion eggs.

In Saudi Arabia's drive to develop agriculture, water must be carefully husbanded - particularly "fossil water" the great underground reservoirs of water accumulated over centuries. Though estimates suggest that there may be sufficient water in these aquifers to meet present irrigation needs for at least a century, uncontrolled withdrawal could deplete these resources at an unacceptable rate.

This, some observers say, could cause problems since water, not oil, as Minister of Agriculture and Water Abdul Rahman al-Shaikh frequently stresses, is Saudi Arabia's most precious resource. Except in the mountainous Southern Province of Asir, where the government has built more than 40 dams since 1977 and which has adequate rainfall to sustain agriculture, most of the kingdom's farmers depend mainly on fossil water; it is the source of most springs and wells, including those that water the country's traditional oases.

At the moment, one new method of irrigation in use in Saudi Arabia is the so-called "pivot system," whereby water is pumped from aquifers and sprayed on crops like rain through vast systems of motorized perforated pipes that rotate in a circle. On one farm alone, near Riyadh, over 50 240-horse-power engines are pumping water from 95 meters underground (300 feet) at a rate of eight liters a second (2.11 gallons) to be sprayed by 370-meter-long irrigation arms (1,100 feet) over 42.5-hectare-area circular plots (104 acres) at a rate equivalent to a brimming bathtub every second.

The results are spectacular. Pivot systems produce three times as much animal fodder per hectare as in the West. But again there are drawbacks. One is that close to 30 percent of the pivot water is thought to evaporate, according to men involved with pivot systems. Another is that such intensive use of water may use up supplies too quickly. Experts say, therefore, that intensive grain farming needs to be carefully controlled.

In addition to direct financial encouragement to farmers, the government also supports substantial agricultural research, education and pest control programs. The Ministry of Agriculture maintains over 100 offices throughout the kingdom which send out teams to spray crops free of charge. The ministry also runs a string of experimental farms that study local crop problems, livestock production, fish farming, methods of sand stabilization and seed research. Development of improved strains has already brought about an improvement in the quality of vegetables, and recently-introduced potato growing has been particularly successful in some areas, producing a 1982 harvest of 10,000 tons.

Now one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the kingdom - its growth rate doubled in the first 12 months of the Third Five Year Plan - agriculture has spawned a number of multi-million dollar enterprises and a host of agriculture-related industries. In the Eastern Province, for example, entrepreneurs have opened nurseries, agricultural supply houses and even landscaping businesses, some on land that was merelysabkha (salt flats) and sand just a decade ago. They serve some 300 to 400 farmers primarily, but because industrial and residential estate development has bred a demand, they also design, construct and maintain tree-lined roadsides, gardens with fountains and esthetically pleasing frontages for companies and personnel moving into new properties.

One major firm in the area specializing in both agricultural supply services and landscaping is the Saudi Agricultural Services Corporation (SASCO) based in Dammam, with an 8.1 hectare (20-acre) nursery near Qatif. A company with a multi-million dollar annual turnover today, SASCO was started in 1974 as a small flower-importing and sales company in a 12-square-meter shop in Dammam (130-square-feet). According to general manager Sa'id Aoudeh, the firm now grosses $5.3 million a year selling such plants as melia trees from Spain, raspberry bushes from Iraq, various flowering shrubs, bushes like hibiscus, lantana and bougainvillea and even specially grafted cacti from Japan.

Aoudeh dates the "takeoff" point for the landscaping side of SASCO to 1977 when the company was awarded the "very first" landscaping job at Jubail, a giant industrial city being built on the coast north of Dammam (Aramco World, November-December 1982). But he counts this $174,000 contract as "small" compared to a new $30.4 million contract described by Aoudeh as "one of the largest landscaping projects ever awarded at Jubail." That contract is to landscape a 42-kilometer road network (26 miles) including construction of shoulders, installation of a modern irrigation system - with a 700-horsepower pumping station and a 3.8-million-liter water reservoir (1 million gallons) with automatic controls and sensors - and planting some 17,000 trees, mainly acacia, ficus and melia.

Reflecting both the achievement and potential of the agricultural sector in the kingdom, 400 companies participated in Saudi Arabia's first-ever agricultural exhibition in Riyadh in 1982, 420 took part in Saudi Agriculture '83, and mostof the space at next year's exhibition is already sold.

The future, of course, is uncertain, but Dr. al-Shaikh recently voiced hopes that by 1986 Saudi Arabia would be in a position not only to grow most of its own food, but also to export wheat, dairy produce, poultry and vegetable to neighboring Gulf states - a remarkable achievement in such a short period of time for a country with so few natural agricultural resources.

In the UAE, progress has been less dramatic, but is nevertheless instantly visible. Fifteen years ago, for example, passengers arriving at the Abu Dhabi International Airport had no doubt that they were in a desert land, but today, as they drive into town along a road lined with trees and gardens, they may well wonder if they will see any desert at all. The people of the Emirates have a passion for growing things and in recent years have indulged themselves.

The UAE tree projects were started in the late 1960s, but really took off in 1972 when the Sadiyat Island project was initiated by the Arid Lands Research Center to solve the problem of cultivation in an artificial environment; it succeeded so quickly that a bright future for agriculture in the Emirates already seems assured.

Al-Ain is a case in point. Not long ago, it was a dusty desert town, little different from the sandy wastes around it, but today, as a result of judicious use of water, the dust has been transformed into beds for trees, shrubs and flowers that abound, even in traffic circles. But the Emirates have practical plans as well.

Already private farms close to the center of al-Ain, thanks to government aid with respect to technology and equipment, are sprouting, the fields rich in alfalfa, cucumbers, lettuce and cabbage - the cabbages in sand covered with aqua paper to retain moisture from drip feed. In another example, UAE farmers are producing commercial crops in a full hectare of linked greenhouses (2.5 acres). At one end of the building cool water is sprayed onto a series of vents which atomize the water before it is sucked through the greenhouses by giant extractor fans that keep humidity and temperature at optimal levels. In one five-month season they have already grown 280 tons of produce.

In Abu Dhabi the Ministry of Agriculture also runs a 500-hectare experimental wheat farm (1,235 acres) at which double lines of conifers protect the field and spray irrigation arms are fed by some 90 wells tapping aquifer water. In addition, FAO experts at Hamranya are trying to find out what grows best in local conditions, exploring, for example, the commercial possibilities of citrus fruits, while at a model dairy farm others are working with 450 Frisian milk cows which have been there for nearly 20 years and have been used to breed acclimatized cows.

Of all the examples of progress, none is more dramatic than the 100-kilometer-long Jordan Valley (60 miles), where, in 1981, valley farmers grew $141 million worth of fruits and vegetables - compared to $49 million worth in 1977 - and accounted for just over 63 per cent of the country's entire output.

Broken down, that total includes 162,000 tons of tomatoes, 58,911 tons of eggplant, 34,031 tons of summer squash, 33,411 tons of cucumbers, 16,793 tons of lemons, 12,456 tons of oranges, 11,500 tons of tangerines, 6,683 tons of bananas, 2,649 tons of grapefruit, plus impressive quantities of wheat, barley, onions, string beans, hot peppers, cabbage, watermelons, lettuce and potatoes.

Other statistics are equally impressive. In 10 years, development has increased the valley's total cultivated and irrigated areas to 21,000 hectares (51,870 acres) - and double- and triple-cropping of the same land during the October-to-May seasons has boosted the actual area cultivated to about 40,000 hectares a year (98,000 acres). Furthermore, increasingly sophisticated farm management, crop rotation and advanced technology could increase output sharply in the 1980s, and construction of the proposed Maqarin Dam on the Yarmuk River - expected to start soon - could increase the total of irrigatable land to 36,000 hectares (98,000 acres).

To a great extent, this bounty stems from exceptionally dependable sources of water: the Yarmuk and Zerka rivers and nine contributory wadis, flowing out of the eastern hills, pour 636 million cubic meters of water into the valley annually - (168 billion gallons).

In addition, the valley, situated 200 to 400 meters below sea level (660 to 1,300 feet), is warmer in winter than the surrounding uplands; this means that its farmers can grow vegetables in the off-season -and get premium prices for them. Another advantage is its proximity to other Arab countries; Jordanian vegetables picked in the morning can be on dining room tables in the Gulf within 48 hours.

Water, climate and location, however, are but parts of the Jordan Valley story. Though increased agricultural output is the most obvious accomplishment, the change in people's attitudes towards working and living in the valley is the most significant. As Dr. Munther Haddadin, acting president of the Jordan Valley Authority (JVA), said: "It's easy to build irrigation projects and houses or schools. The really difficult challenge is in changing people's attitudes towards education, social welfare, self-reliance, civic mindedness, child-rearing, and all the other elements of an educated, enlightened population. It's a slow process..."

In the Jordan Valley, however, this process is well underway. Young people who had drifted into the valley seeking seasonal work now ponder the option of buying a house there and students who once migrated to the cities are taking some of the new jobs in education, health care, banking, agricultural services, transport, government services, and a whole range of retail and commercial fields. Until 10 years ago, such students wouldn't have dreamed of returning to valley life. Now, however, they can, and already there are examples of lawyers and teachers leaving their jobs in Amman and Salt, return ing to the valley, and in some cases even taking up farming. As a result, the population of the valley has begun to climb again - to about 100,000 people, most of them permanent residents.

Behind this achievement is a story that in one sense began 10,000 years ago - when ancient man turned from hunting to farming near Jericho. In another sense it didn't begin until 10 years ago when the Jordanian government, a score of Arab and international lending agencies and the enterprising farmers of Jordan joined hands and money to initiate a $l-billion integrated development scheme to finally tap the promise of the past: the promise of an extensively cultivated valley, marshaling its unique agricultural resources for the benefit of the entire Middle Eastern region.

Along the way, Jordan and its partners also may have formulated a rural development strategy applicable in other countries - a strategy that has funneled a torrent of private investment into the previously neglected business of farming, relieved Jordan's chronic food imbalance, worked out an efficient working relationship between government and private agencies, and, most amazing of all, slowed and, in some cases, actually reversed the rural-to-urban migration of people that plagues most developing countries.

Officially launched by the formation of the Jordan Valley Commission (JVC) in February, 1973, the bold experiment was the culmination of both the ancient past and the more recent past: 65 years of development planning by Arab and foreign authorities.

At the time the JVC was formed, there was little to show for previous years of development. As a result of the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 and the subsequent war of attrition, the valley had shrunk considerably; its previous population of 60,000 had dwindled to a mere 5,000 war-weary farmers braving bullets and bombs to tend their citrus and banana groves and protect their precarious investments.

As early as 1913, schemes to restore the valley's ancient fertility had been routinely proposed - and routinely forgotten. One of the more important schemes, however, was put forward in the 1950s, when U.S. Ambassador Eric Johnston formulated a regional water-sharing plan to meet the needs of all the Jordan River Basin's riparian states according to international law. Though the accord has never been formally signed or ratified, its principles still unofficially guide the four states in their use of the system's waters.

Meanwhile, the Jordanian government had decided to study those lands and water resources that fall wholly within Jordanian territory, and at last an accurate, scientific assessment of the valley's true potential, as well as precise water projection, was made in what was called the Baker-Hazra Report.

Based on soil analysis, land classification and water measurement, the Baker-Hazra report indicated, to most people's surprise, that the valley could support considerably more cultivation, with less water, than had been assumed. Indeed, the Baker-Hazra report translated some 1913 pioneering ideas of Ottoman engineer Georges Franghia into a coherent plan.

At the heart of this plan was construction of the East Ghor Canal, which was eventually completed in 1966. Running two-thirds the length of the valley and measuring 69 kilometers (42 miles) the gravity-fed canal includes a surface irrigation network covering 11,700 hectares.

Another element in the plan was land redistribution, and in 1962, under the supervision of the newly established East Ghor Canal Authority, officials started to break up the large land holdings in favor of smaller family-owned farms, thus spreading the benefits of irrigated farming to a greater number of people. Along with the benefits of the canal, this redistribution of land was a turning point in the modern history of the Jordan Valley. It transformed the area into a high-yield source of fruits and vegetables commanding high prices in the export markets, particularly throughout the Arabian Peninsula.

By the 1960s, the first results of these efforts were being felt. New people began to settle there, schools were opened, shops were established, and roads improved. Statistical studies indicated that the East Ghor Canal had substantially increased the irrigated acreage and the total net income of the Jordan Valley. The total area under intensive irrigation had increased from 2,525 hectares (6,236 acres) in 1953 to 10,300 hectares (25,440 acres) in 1966, while the valley's net income increased more than five-fold to $5.2 million. It seemed that for the first time in some 10,000 years, the ancient soil of the Jordan Valley had started to achieve its immense potential.

Once again, however, outside factors shattered the momentumof progress. This time it was the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 which sent the pre-war population of some 60,000 fleeing from Israeli attacks, destroyed, through bombing, many of the orchards so carefully nurtured since 1960, and left the valley in a state of paralysis and fear.

Four years later, however, Jordan again realized that the valley and its untapped land and water resources could offer a significant increase in agricultural production - as well as hope for a better future. And once again, the country's planners, now working under the aegis of young Crown Prince Hassan, set out to formulate yet another - if qualitatively more ambitious - plan. Dr. Hanna Odeh, a member of that committee who has since served as president of the National Planning Council (NPC), recalls: "We had reviewed all previous plans for the valley and realized that simply increasing agricultural production and income did not in itself guarantee a rise in the social standards and general quality of life of the valley residents. We thought that a plan that covered engineering requirements was somehow insufficient. We sought more balance between technical work and the human needs of the valley."

Later that year, still another committee, addressed those specific concerns and came to realize what was involved. That committee, according to Prince Hassan, who involved himself in its work immediately after completing his studies at Oxford University, saw that the " entire Rift Valley, from the Yarmuk River through the potash project near the Dead Sea and down to Aqaba, was ... the main productive trunk of the country in terms of planning."

Then - in the last quarter of 1971 - the planning team made a breakthrough; they came up with the concept of "integrated development," a counterpoint to the narrow, irrigation-only focus of previous plans, and in June 1972 published its Plans for Reliabilitation and Development of the Jordan Valley.

A bold idea, the "integrated" plan envisaged spending $75 million over three years to rehabilitate existing irrigation works and cultivate an extra 7,600 hectares of land (18,772 acres). The plan also called for allied social services to meet the projected expansion of the valley's population from 40,000 in early 1972 to 120,000 in 1975, and 156,000 upon full development; these projects included schools, health centers, domestic water systems, roads, telecommunications, slaughter-houses, community centers and government complexes. The third element of the plan, agricultural services, included research and expansion, land improvement, marketing, forestation, agricultural credit, farm management and equipment servicing.

Finally, on February 1, 1973, after all the years of planning, Jordan established the Jordan Valley Commission (JVC), the group charged with executing the rehabilitation plan. Headed by Omar Abdullah Dokhgan, the commission was given full control over all aspects of economic life and construction activity in the valley - from licensing new buildings and overseeing land redistribution to equipping schools and medical centers and promoting such sophisticated new irrigation techniques as drip and sprinkler irrigation.

Originally, the JVC was charged with completing the main projects within three years. But the huge job proved to be too much for the small JVC staff to handle between 1973 and 1975 and by mid-1974, it was clear that none of the projects would be completed as scheduled. A new plan was drawn up, therefore, to cover the years from 1975 to 1980, this one including the great Maqarin Dam project on the Yarmuk River; a 388-million-cubic-meter-capacity earthfill dam (102.5 billion gallons), the Maqarin project will provide maximum irrigation for the valley's 36,000 hectares (88,920 acres). The Five Year Plan also envisaged new investments of $486 million, thereby transforming the JVC in one year's time into an agency handling some $600 million worth of agricultural and social service projects.

In January, 1975, the JVC awarded its first contract - to a Jordanian contractor. It covered a $6.4 million project to build the main highway running down the spine of the valley. Irrigation projects got underway a few months later, with South Korean firms winning a $5.8 million contract to install an underground pressure pipe irrigation network covering 1,500 hectares of land (3,705 acres) in the Zerqa Triangle area, where the Zerqa and Jordan rivers meet. In addition, the main East Ghor Canal was extended by another 18 kilometers (11 miles), irrigating 3,650 hectares (9,105 acres) of previously barren land in the southern part of the valley.

By mid-1975, even as the momentum of work picked up, the JVC realized once again that it had underestimated the time required, and the plan was extended yet again - into a seven-year plan for 1975-1982 - and again the goals were readjusted, this time to provide irrigation for a total of 36,000 hectares of land (88,920 acres), using underground pressure-pipe systems that could deliver the water directly to the farm - so that the farmer himself could determine how it would be applied to the land.

That decision is an example of the JVC's opposition to undue government regulations or constraints on farming decisions. Since the land is all privately owned and worked, the farmers themselves, the JVC believed, should make all decisions on what to grow, which irrigation systems to use and how to market their produce.

On October 31, 1982, the JVC - by now the powerful JVA - formally brought to a close the first decade of work on the rehabilitation plan by turning over a series of JVA projects to the appropriate ministries - having, in a sense, phased itself out of a job. Among the completed projects were 72 schools with a capacity of 27,000 students; 15 hospitals and health centers with a total built-up area of 15,000 square meters (161,400 square feet); a community development center; 13 government administrative centers; 90 kilometers of village roads (54 miles); 1,888 houses that were sold to individuals, and 350 houses for government employees; a power network serving 35 villages; three domestic water projects serving 37 villages; the 113-kilometer-long spine road running the length of the valley (67.5 miles); and 275 kilometers of farm roads (165 miles). The total cost of these village development works was $105 million, of which $39 million was financed by foreign loans.

By early 1983, the JVA had also completed the 56-million-cubic-meter-capacity (15-billion-gallons) King Talal Dam on the Zerqa River in the central valley; 62 wells scattered throughout the Rift Valley; and an 18-kilometer extension of the Zerqa Triangle Project (10.8 miles) using water from the King Talal Dam; the Hisban-Kafrein dam-and-irrigation scheme; underground drainage networks; and agricultural services that included four grading and packing centers, two tomato paste factories, a box factory, two vegetable nurseries and a soil and water laboratory. Those facilities, either completed or well underway, cost close to $30 million.

One of the exciting aspects of the Jordan Valley project is the response by private farmers and other private sectors of Jordan's economy to the government's lead. According to JVA calculations, every dollar of government money has been matched by five dollars invested by private farmers or other valley entrepreneurs. This proves, say JVA sources, that the well-honed Jordanian formula works: the government leads off and the private sector follows. JVA people say it explains the surprising success of an economy that has been declared doomed in the last 40 years more times than Jordanian planners can remember.

Another exciting aspect is the emphatically international character of the projects. Some 14 foreign governments, Arab aid funds or multi-national organizations have contributed about half the financing required and many foreign workers in search of regular income have settled in Jordan, thus becoming direct beneficiaries of the valley's development; these workers include thousands of Egyptians, Pakistanis, Indians and other nationalities. In addition to financiers and laborers, foreign countries have also fielded teams of contractors and consultants, and several Western governments have sent in experts whose tested concepts of development have been applied in the Jordan Valley.

Among the major foreign donors to the project are the Saudi Fund, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development, the World Bank, the Abu Dhabi Fund, the United States Agency for International Development, the OPEC Special Fund, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the West German, Dutch, Japanese and British governments and the EEC.

The valley rehabilitation projects have also produced important unanticipated results. Three years ago, for example, it was decided to tap the excess winter river flows of the valley and pump the water to the Amman and Irbid regions for domestic and industrial use; now, as a consequence, there's a project under construction that will pump 45 million cubic meters of water a year from the valley to the north Jordan plateau cities - 1,300 meters higher than the valley (4,260 feet), and thus requiring five massive pumping stations along the steel pipeline.

The project - to cost $225 million - should be completed by 1985, along with a similar $45-million project to tap the newly found underground waters of Mukheibeh, near the confluence of the Yarmuk and Jordan rivers, and to pump them to the Irbid region at the rate of some 60 million cubic meters per year. Linked together, these two systems will, by the end of the 1980s, form the core of a national water network and make Jordan's overall reliance on the resources of the Jordan Valley far greater than anyone could have imagined a decade ago.

Such success, oddly enough, has not ended the worries of Jordan's 8,000 farmers. Though they no longer have to worry about fertility and water, they do have other problems: increasingly stiff competition in the export markets of the Arabian Peninsula and other traditional and nearby markets such as Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, as the result of progress in those regions as well. To cope with this, valley farmers are trying to develop a more rational, coherent cropping pattern by which they can avoid over-production, low prices and gluts. Some farmers have also investigated the possibility of air-freighting produce to Europe, while others are putting their faith in the new tomato paste factories as a way of using up surpluses.

Meanwhile, the JVA has already turned its attention to another challenge: development of the country's last agricultural frontier, the Wadi Araba and the Southern Ghors in the 250-kilometer stretch from the Dead Sea to Aqaba on the Red Sea (155 miles). Already underway, this project will pose still another challenge to an economy that refuses to give in to either predictions of disaster or disaster itself, and that insists that the green revolution is here to stay.

This article appeared on pages 24-40 of the September/October 1983 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.


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