Expert advice on food security : Plant more crops

A farmer harvests produce in his farm in the Jordan Valley. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Jordan, which imports strategic crops including wheat and barley, has a precarious food security, agricultural experts say.اضافة اعلان

They contend that the country should look to invest more in agricultural projects, develop agricultural water networks, plant less water-intensive crops, and come up with projects that promote the development of the local aquatic and agricultural environment to address the problem.

Poultry and Feed Investors Association President Abdel Shakoor Al-Jamjoum said that achieving food security “requires the government to develop long-term plans and strategies, especially that there is not enough stock of fodder in the Kingdom”.

“We should start cultivating fodder to become self-sufficient, especially since the increase in fodder prices contributes to the increase in the price of animal products,” he told Jordan News.

To come up with plans and solutions “that serve the country and citizens”, he said, a group session bringing together representatives of the public and private sectors should be held, he suggested.

Head of a cattle feed cooperative Laith Al-Hajj told Jordan News that the cattle sector consumes about 90 percent of the feed from abroad, stressing that “Jordan should start cultivating fodder as this is an essential part of achieving food security”.

“The government should collaborate with private sector representatives and come up with a good strategy to create a strategic stock of fodder,” he added.

Head of Traders and Producers of Agricultural Materials Syndicate Mohammad Loay Bibars told Jordan News that there are several obstacles to reaching strategic crops self-reliance, including water scarcity, lack of agricultural units, and the geographical nature of the country.

According to him, “the government should ensure that investors will not lose when they invest in the agricultural sector”, knowing that “agricultural projects carry many risks”.

Secretary General of the Farmers Union Mahmoud Al-Oran told Jordan News that “rain-fed crops, especially wheat and barley, are very modest and cover only a small percentage of the total consumption”.

“In the long run, we must increase the capacity of the national grain silos, in conjunction with the establishment of free zones, silos for storing grain and large food industries, by attracting the local and regional private sector to invest in these areas and provide all forms of support, free from bureaucratic complications,” he said.

That should not be difficult, he said, since “we have low-humidity areas, which offer a climate suitable for storing grains, such as the south of Wadi Araba and Al-Quwaira, both of which are close to the port and airport of Aqaba”.

He also suggested encouraging “inter-Arab investments in the field of food production, exploiting the comparative and competitive advantages of these countries”.

“We should also work with neighboring countries to remove all trade and customs obstacles that impede the flow of foodstuff to and from Jordan,” he said.

He explained that “returning to contract farming outside Jordan, such as in Sudan, Eastern European countries, and Canada, may be more effective than ever, especially when it comes to fodder cultivation.”

“All these things may help solve some of the problems facing farmers and the government in achieving food security,” he added.

Some water experts, meanwhile, sounded the alarm due to what they said was a rise in wasted water, according to Al-Ghad News. It said the experts estimated the water loss at between 30 to 50 percent, which they blamed primarily on a degraded water system.

The experts the rise in wasted water comes at a time when Jordan must work hard to increase self-reliance in the production of key agricultural crops, in order to contribute to food security.

The experts said that water harvesting was insufficient, and is not being implemented on scientific basis.

They called on the government to rearrange project priorities, with emphasis on expanding the use of modern, legalized techniques for irrigation water use and introducing optimal water use technology.

Former secretary-general of the Jordan Valley Authority Saad Abu Hammour cited Jordan’s inability to live in the luxury of consuming water in useless farms.

Amid the challenges of climate change and dependence on rainfall, Abu Hammour called for urgent solutions to overcome the consequences of those challenges, which are particularly reflective of food security.

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