Jordan eyes Gulf to increase agricultural exports

An undated photo of farmers at the Jordan Valley. (Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — The Ministry of Agriculture is ramping up its efforts to increase agricultural exports after a brief period of stagnation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic; the primary market targeted being the Arab Gulf with fruits, vegetables, live sheep, and eggs, according to the Ministry of Agriculture Secretary-General Mohammad Hiyari.اضافة اعلان

In addition to the Arab Gulf market, Hiyari told Jordan News that other stakeholders like the US and European countries are also potential markets for the Jordanian agriculture sector. Since the start of the pandemic, the ministry has introduced certain incentives to ease local farmers’ financial stress by “exempting them from export fees imposed by central markets” and “financially supporting them with inspections hindrances.”

The ministry has also assisted in the establishment of a joint Jordanian-Palestinian company, registered at the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Supply, that markets local agricultural products. This company aims to efficiently promote local produce of the highest quality to “any and all potential buyers abroad” as a means of mobilizing the Jordanian private sector, according to Hiyari. 

A key advantage for the Jordanian agriculture sector is the fact “a majority of Jordanian exports and local agricultural products are tax exempted under the Income and Sales tax department regulations, although there are some products that are not tax-exempt,” Hiyari pointed out. 

Jordanian agricultural exports comprise nearly 15 percent of all of Jordan’s exports, which is a significant volume in Hiyari’s view, although it could grow with time. In the past three years, the average value of Jordanian exports stood at JD760 million, which highlights just how integral the agricultural sector truly is for Jordan’s economy.

Hiyari outlined the importance of maintaining quality assurance for Jordan’s agricultural produce, especially during this pandemic. “The reputation of Jordan as a market player globally is on the line if we don’t take this seriously. Gladly, the appropriate regulatory channels to ensure the safety of the produce and pasture are active and effective.”

Chairman of the Parliamentary Agriculture and Water Committee, Mohammad Alaqmeh, told Jordan News that as a nation, Jordan must collectively pay attention to the pandemic’s profound impact on the Kingdom’s export channels. “The pandemic has undoubtedly played a role in slowing down the flow of Jordan’s export channels. Export markets are not as permeable as they were before the pandemic.”

Asked about the biggest challenges facing Jordan’s agricultural exports, Alaqmeh emphasized the role of regional political instability, and how it has recently created barriers in Jordan’s export market. 

“Historically, Jordan has exported agricultural crops like cucumbers, zucchinis, and tomatoes to nearby markets like Iraq and Syria, but recent political turmoil in the region, primarily stemming from those two countries, has had a noticeable negative effect on the Kingdom’s export capabilities,” he said.

Jaafar Wudyan, a member of the Jordanian Agricultural Research Center, believes that that “Jordan is lucky to have the Jordan Valley as part of its territory, as its climate conditions are uniquely ideal for agricultural activity, and such conditions are the type that other countries can only wish for.”  

Due to Jordan having areas like the Jordan Valley, which has unique agricultural advantages, Jordan “doesn’t have to rely on closed growing systems, or plant factories,” the way Japan and a wide array of other countries have to, he added.

Wudyan also praised Jordan’s efforts in overcoming its formidable agricultural challenges caused by water scarcity, through the use of “hydroponic and aquaponic agricultural systems,” as ideal solutions that save water.  

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