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Exporting produce to Israel is not in the national interest, say sector officials

7. Veggies Insrael
A farmer tends tomatoes in this undated photo. (Photo: Flickr)
AMMAN — In reply to MP Ahmed Qatawneh’s question about his meeting with Israeli officials, Minister of Agriculture Khaled Huneifat said the meeting was held in “the national interest”, with the goal of enhancing agricultural exports and identifying new markets to help farmers.اضافة اعلان

Head of the Agricultural Materials Traders and Producers Association Mohammad Baibars, however, disagrees with the minister, saying that Jordan’s marketing potential may be found in other countries, not Israel, and that the amount intended for export to Israel, “however large, is still small in comparison to other countries’ import opportunities”.

Baibars said that he is speaking on behalf of the members of the association, “which constitutes an important component of the agricultural sector about which the minister of agriculture talked”, and the majority of them oppose trade with Israel for whatever reason.

“The globe as a whole provides various possibilities that would divert Jordan’s attention away from trade with Israel, which many countries avoid and which other countries, not only Arab countries, boycott,” he stressed.

Abdelhadi Falahat, former head of the Jordan Agricultural Engineers Association, told Jordan News that he completely disagrees with the minister of agriculture’s stance, and that “despite the sector’s suffering, there is no underlying national interest in trade with Israel”.

According to Falahat, the national interest, as well as the interests of the agricultural sector and farmers, can be served through the search for solutions to the challenges that Jordanian farmers face, such as the high production cost, which is the sector’s main challenge.

In light of a worldwide food crisis, there are other options to improve the sector’s situation than resorting to exporting to Israel, such as Arab integration and opening Arab markets, he said, stressing that “the greatest way is to address the underlying issues”.

While these issues are not being addressed, he added, the problems of the agricultural sector continue to grow, “as the government and officials focus on the symptoms and consequences of the problem, rather than the cause”.

“The first step should be to find appropriate and reasonable solutions that meet the needs of farmers and alleviate their suffering,” he added.

Ali Abu Nuqta, the current head of the Jordan Agricultural Engineers Association, said that “the association’s position is clear”, that “it would always support national and religious principles, and will retain its stance against normalization with Israel, regardless of what the government thinks”.

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