Hneifat urges Jordanians to grow wheat, says stocks sufficient for 15 months

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AMMAN — Minister of Agriculture Khaled Hneifat said Jordan needs about 1 billion cubic meters of water to be self-sufficient in wheat cultivation. اضافة اعلان

Speaking at a media forum organized by the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists, Hneifat stressed that Jordan’s stock of wheat is sufficient for 15 months and called on citizens to grow wheat in any available spot, as the ministry will buy a tonne of wheat from them at the highest global price.

The minister stressed that studies that talk about the danger to food security in Jordan are inaccurate, saying that Jordan ranked 49th in food security in 2021, while it was 64 in 2019.

Hneifat said that the ministry is cooperating with the Hashemite University to establish a seed bank to preserve indigenous seeds, with funding provided by the university standing at JD3 million.

He noted that the agricultural sector contributed 5.5 percent to the GDP and 18–20 percent to the overall economy.

The ministry, he said, reached an agreement with the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature, in cooperation with the Potash Company, to establish a “cocoon” plant in Jordan, a new mechanism used in agriculture that has proven successful, contributing to reducing evaporation and reducing water use.

The head of the Jordan Valley Farmers Union, Adnan Khaddam, told Jordan News that farmers suffer from lack of water, and cannot rely on rainwater due to climate change, and added that the incentives meant to encourage farmers to grow wheat are insufficient.

Khaddam stressed that the government should help the Jordanian farmers cultivate wheat and barley by granting them soft loans, adding that farmers are reluctant to grow wheat “despite the government’s promise to buy it from farmers at a price higher than the world price because the farmers do not make a profit”.

He also said that wheat production this year is lower than last year due to climate change and the water crisis. Moreover, farmers have the additional challenge of low soil fertility and its dependence on irrigation.

The president of the Agricultural Engineers Association, Ali Abu Noqta, told Jordan News that to cultivate wheat and barley there is need of rain, and “in this type of farming, farmers face great risks due to climate change”.

He added that this type of farming depends on supplementary irrigation or groundwater, “which is costly, especially due to the high supply costs, which have doubled in the past two years”.

He called for a serious study of the cost of such farming, and said that the government should not allow the fragmentation of agricultural land and should provide farmers with seeds, fertilizers and means of harvesting.

Abu Noqta also said that climate change was a major challenge and the National Agricultural Research Centre must select seed varieties that withstand scarce rain, adding that vegetable cultivation should be replaced with wheat and barley cultivation, which could be secured through signing contracts with farmers.

Former president of the Agricultural Engineers Association Abdelhadi Flahat said that the government should think of ways to incentivize farmers to grow wheat and barley, by bearing part of the production cost, “so that farmers make reasonable profits and thus help the country reach the important goal of achieving food security”.

He emphasized the government’s role in supporting the cultivation of wheat and barley as strategic crops, explaining that this year the purchase price for wheat seeds was JD500 per ton and of wheat for consumption was JD420 per ton, while barley was priced at JD420 for seeds, and JD370 for fodder.

He said that the 20,000 tons of these two grains produced this year constitute a “weak” production, and the government should take exceptional measures to address this issue.

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