In recent years, communities surrounding the northern Dead Sea have been plagued by a severe house fly infestation. The lack of wastewater management has led to an insect infestation in the South Ghors Communities, as in many communities throughout the Jordan River Valley. This problem, discussed in FoEME’s 2007 publication “Identifying Common Environmental Problems and Shared Solutions” is greatly augmented by the fertilization of agricultural fields with raw manure. The intensity of the fly infestation in the Jordan River Valley knows no borders. In a continuing effort to address this transboundary problem FoEME recently brought together a group of stakeholders, experts and concerned residents earlier this month in Jordan to discuss the issue and how to deal with the difficult situation.
The area around the two Jordanian villages of Ghor Mazra’a and Ghor Fifa suffers from a plague of insects. The problem is caused by the common house fly and the tuta absoluta, a specific species of moth commonly know as tomato leaf miner. Israeli experts from the Tamar Regional Council, Palestinian farmers from Auja, and local Jordanian farmers, all from FoEME‘s Good Water Neighbor communities,met together with representatives from the local authority in Jordan and the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss shared environmental concerns that are affecting the agricultural industry.
The main purpose of the regional meeting was to discuss the urgent environmental issues concerning the massive spread of the insects. Also the general diseases affecting the harvest in the area were discussed, but due to the limited time, the participants decided to concentrate on how to deal with the massive distribution of the common house fly and the tuta absoluta. Connected to this, the excessive use of non-treated organic fertilizers was discussed.
During the meeting, the group toured several farms in the area. After experiencing the situation first hand, the group members came up with ideas and agreed on an action plan. The participants of the meeting agreed on the following:
The Israeli expert group promised to send the details of the pesticides used in Israel to fight the tuta absoluta and the common flies. After receiving the Israeli information, the Jordanians will find equivalent brands in Jordan. The environmental impact of those pesticides for insect control will be assessed by FoEME. The experts’ team also made recommendations concerning some misuses in farming practices regarding the use of fertilizers and pesticides in the area.
Furthermore, the Israeli group will make several tests both in Ghor Mazra’a and Ghor Fifa; observe and record the outcomes and publish the output to advance a cross border awareness campaigns aiming at reducing the infestation. These campaigns will be organized and carried out by FoEME in cooperation with the Farmers’ Union.
To continue the discussion and promote best practices, FoEME is planning additional cross border visits between the farmers and stakeholders.
– This entry was written by Elizabeth Ya’ari, Jordan River Rehabilitation Project Coordinator and Josef Wenninger, FoEME intern at the Tel Aviv office.