The valley of Wadi Rum in southern Jordan, near the border with Saudi Arabia, has a landscape so alien it is nicknamed "Valley of the Moon." Mountains of granite and sandstone rise next to valleys filled with red sand. A range of narrow gorges, natural arches, towering cliffs, ramps, massive landslides and caverns lie scattered across an area 720 square kilometers. The area is naturally arid, receiving little annual precipitation and supporting only sparse vegetation. Its surprising that anything at all can grow on the sun baked earth, yet the desert regions of Israel and Jordan have for years been the subject of numerous agricultural projects. Recently, Bedouins living in the Wadi Rum region have become involved in unique agricultural projects that are beginning to become successful.
Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert happens to be the site of Jordan’s largest mixed farm – Rum Farm. Rum was established in the year 1986, in the midst of the Wadi Rum desert on 2,000 hectares of land. While it seems like an odd choice of location, it begins to make sense when you learn that under the Wadi Rum desert, and stretching under the border mountains and well into Saudi Arabia, is a large aquifer. In fact, much of this desert nation’s water supply is dependent on this single water source.
Rum Farm specializes in the cultivation of open field vegetable products, grains and forage, including eggplants, cabbage, figs and pomegranates, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The crops grown there by Rum Farm Organics are being grown by using special irrigation techniques and method of agriculture that is said to have been in use in ancient times by such peoples as the ancient Egyptians and Nabateans.
Water is drawn from subterranean aquifer, 30 to 400 meters deep, and irrigated on 78 hectares circular fields, by using a pivoting ramp with watering nozzles. Special plastic “poly tunnels” are also used to help conserve water and deal with extreme desert temperatures.
The company’s techniques are so successful that the farm now produces a large part of Jordan’s food supply, before being trucked north hundreds of kilometers through the desert to the capital of Amman and other locations.
Photo credit: unknown