Ministry steps in as drought weighs heavily on Bisha

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Author: MISHAAL AL-TAMIMI | ARAB NEWS

Saturday 7 May 2011

ABHA: Bisha, the town of a million palm trees, has suffered from a severe drought lately but the Ministry of Agriculture said on Thursday it is taking a number of precautionary measures to contain its effects.

Director of the ministry's branch in Asir province Fahd Al-Farteesh told Arab News that the drought was caused by a lack of rain.
“Many of the wells have also dried up, adding to the problem,” he said.
“We have rationalized the use of water and have thus been successful in rescuing a number of farms and palm trees in Bisha and Wadi Taraj,” he said.
Asked about the number of farms and palm trees affected by the drought in the region, the director said they were in the thousands.
“We do not have an exact number but the affected farms were the most productive unfortunately,” he said.
Al-Farteesh hoped that Bisha will continue to live up to its name and said the ministry is doing its best to tackle the situation.
Al-Farteesh said the ministry started its rescue project by recycling sewage water to irrigate farms and palm trees in Bisha and other towns in Asir province.
“We are providing purified and recycled sewage water to the farms, which are using sprinklers for irrigation,” he said.
He pointed to a common misconception that recycled water is only good for fruit trees and said it can safely be used to irrigate vegetables, plants and trees.
“About 60 percent of the farms in Ahsa are safely using purified sewage water for irrigation,” he added.
The director said a special committee has been established to oversee the use of processed sewage water for irrigation purposes in Bisha and other areas in Asir. “Only close to 15,000 tons from about 80,000 tons of sewage water are being used,” he explained.

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