A Harvest of Technology: The Super-Green Revolution in the Jordan Valley

By Miller, James A. | The Middle East Journal, Winter 1997 | Go to article overview

A Harvest of Technology: The Super-Green Revolution in the Jordan Valley


Miller, James A., The Middle East Journal


A Harvest of Technology: The SuperGreen Revolution in the Jordan Valley, by Sharif S. Elmusa. Washington, DC: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, 1994. xxvii + 195 pages. Bibl. to p. 210. Index to p. 217. $19.95 paper.

Reviewed by James A. Miller

At the intersection of political and economic rivalries, the east bank of the Jordan River has undergone a profound environmental and social transformation since the early 1970s. The East Ghor Canal project, Jordan's most notable agricultural infrastructure, has promoted steady technological change in the region. Sharif S. Elmusa assesses the socioeconomic and environmental extent of technological change in the Jordan Valley by looking at the most visible aspects of these changes and the development of drip irrigation and greenhouses, and then asks who benefits. At the same time, he is concerned with the nature of economic development and attempts to link local changes with the broader body of theory developed in economics and rural sociology.

Elmusa views the development of the Jordan Valley from the perspective of dependency theory and finds the following mixed results: Food production has increased dramatically, raising incomes sharply for those who got in on the ground floor; wheat imports, however, have soared as vegetables have replaced grain production in the Valley; technology accumulation has increased, placing Jordan in the forefront of specific agricultural technologies and research; Jordanian agriculture has come to rely on Egyptian labor, linking regional economies, but placing Egyptians (in this discussion) in a new dependency relationship to Jordanians (87 percent of the Jordan Valley's labor force was Egyptian in 1986). Despite developments in the Jordan Valley, agriculture has declined in relative importance in the Jordanian economy (as in modernizing economies generally), and Jordan itself remains strongly enmeshed in patterns of dependency. Questions arise: What is dependency? Who profits from the transformation of the Jordan Valley? What are the consequences of technological change?

In this case study of the relationship between technological change and development theory, it may be that theory overwhelms reality. Seeking to understand the nature of innovation and technological adoption, the theoretical discussion introducing Elmusa's work (Chapter 1, "The Basic Concepts") weeds through modernization studies and sorts out two models of diffusion of technology-individually based versus socially based. In studies of the Middle East, individual-based models can be traced to Daniel Lerner's 1958 study,

The Passing of Traditional Society.' Not surprisingly, Elmusa finds these models lacking and turns to models of development that are framed within broader social structures that allow the "social, economic, and political positions of farmers, rather than their personality variables, [to determine] their decisions on whether to adopt new technologies" (p. 5). Dependency is understood as the interplay of domestic and international structures involving a country's surplus production. …

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