ACC interest-free loans insufficient, farmer contend

An undated picture showing farmers on tractors in the Jordan Valley. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN ­— Famers will soon be able to apply for interest-free loans, each for a maximum of JD4,000, the Agricultural Credit Corporation (ACC) said.اضافة اعلان

ACC Director-General Mohammad Dojan told Jordan News that farmers can apply for the loans by submitting applications to his agency.

 According to ACC’s website, the loans are classified as operational for vegetable farmers to assist them in projects that empower rural women, unemployed youth, and for livestock breeders to purchase fodder.

Dojan said the move is in line with the requirements of the National Plan for Sustainable Agriculture 2022-2025, and the ACC’s commitment to implementing a number of initiatives that will help develop the agricultural and rural sectors.

Part of the commitment is granting “direct loans to priority and important agricultural activities, especially in light of global and regional climate changes, energy prices, and the expected impact on agricultural produce and food security stocks, and an increase in unemployment,” he said.

Mahmoud Al Oran, secretary-general of the Jordanian Farmers’ Union said he backs steps that would help the agricultural sector, particularly small farmers.

Meanwhile, he questioned if ACC will oblige borrowers to produce new guarantees, “as the request for new guarantees will create a difficulty for farmers and would thus contradict the facilities offered by the ACC”.

Oran also said that loans of JD4,000 were insufficient in light of the rising cost of production, such as fertilizers and fodder, which doubled recently.

 In light of the present-day costs, he maintained, “this amount is modest and may not be feasible for some farmers”.

Regarding other loans, Oran believes that ACC should reduce interest rates and guarantees in order “for the loan to achieve its purpose”. At the same time, given the weather conditions, which affected the agricultural sector, both plant and livestock production, ACC should exempt farmers from loan interests for a period of two years, he added.

Adnan Al Khaddam, head of the Jordan Valley Farmers Union, said that while the ACC loan is a positive step, the amount must be raised and more facilities offered, “as the majority of farmers are already borrowers and are constantly burdened by mortgages and guarantees in exchange for these loans”.

Khaddam pointed out that the current food crisis is global, and that “the need for a strong agricultural sector is extremely important today, so it would be useful for the government to provide an amount as a grant to farmers so that they can recover’’ difficulties they faced in the past two years.

Farmer Mutasem Abu Qamar told Jordan News that the interest-free loan is a ‘’good gesture’’ the amount is insufficient.

‘’The JD4,000 cap in the world of agriculture is a very limited amount that wouldn’t solve our problems,’’ he insisted.

Farmers in Jordan “need approximately JD10,000 to advance at least one step”, he added.

Farmer Karam Habashneh said that the loan will enable him to improve his production “slightly” and compensate for some of the losses he suffered as a result of high production costs and low crop prices.

However, he said the amount was little for large production farmers.

 “Food security is the most important goal the government must strive for, and this will not be achieved unless the agricultural sector is adequately supported”, he concluded.

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