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Jordan should aim at food self-sufficiency, rather than resort to imports

(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The Jordan Chamber of Commerce (JCC) has asked the government to grant permission to import legumes and grains from Syria at a time when cholera is spreading in the neighboring country, which pushed the government to tighten checks on foodstuffs coming from there.اضافة اعلان

Jordan still depends to a large extent on imports, since there has been little official interest in helping the agricultural sector boost self-reliance, needed now, when the food crisis makes itself felt in many countries, more than ever.

Head of Jordan and Aqaba Chambers of Commerce Nael Kabariti told Jordan News that in the absence of self-sufficiency, Jordan is looking for the “closest, easiest, and quickest option to secure the need for grains, and Syria is the best option that provides all these requirements”.

He added that the JCC had asked the Jordanian government to remove the restrictions imposed on imports coming from Syria.

As for fears of cholera spreading through foodstuff imported from Syria, Kabariti pointed out that “it is more prevalent in leafy greens, than in grains”.

To address the issue, there is need for “action and supervisions by the Ministry of Health for follow-up and health control, in cooperation with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply”, he suggested.

Farmer Ali Braizat told Jordan News that “grains are citizens’ sustenance and a basic need in the food sector”.

In view of the spread of cholera in Syria, which may hinder imports from there, the government should be even more aware of the “importance of domestic production of this important and irreplaceable food product”.

Director General of the Jordanian Farmers Union Mahmoud Al-Oran told Jordan News that “domestic production of grain must be increased”, but that could only happen if the “government gives directives to allocate arable land for that”.

Oran stressed that there is need for legislation that “allocates enough and specific agricultural areas to farmers, in view of the difficult conditions, such as climate change, political events and economic turmoil”, and that, in view of overproduction of certain produce, the government should force farmers to allocate a third of their land to produce strategic crops, particularly grains, like wheat and barley.
“domestic production of grain must be increased”, but that could only happen if the “government gives directives to allocate arable land for that”.
“This solution would provide job opportunities, as well as hard currency, and have a positive impact on the consumer,” he pointed out.

He believes that “in view of the outbreak of cholera in Syria, the reflex should be to prevent importing, not to demand it, even in the presence of health measures, to ensure citizens’ safety.”

Oran stressed that importing, rather than resorting to domestic production, has a negative impact on the local product, “as it introduces an unequal competition that weakens demand for local products”.

Meanwhile, an informed government source said that Jordan has started taking precautionary measures against cholera, which has begun to spread in neighboring countries, to preserve Jordanians’ health and safety, a local news outlet reported.

The source said Tuesday that the concerned authorities are closely monitoring Jordan’s neighboring countries to assess their epidemiological situation and that the most prominent of the measures taken is to provide cholera tests in the various governorates of the Kingdom, especially those neighboring border crossings.

The source added that tests are being conducted on raw vegetables imported from Syria to ensure that they are free of the disease, and that a decision will be taken regarding foodstuff imported from Lebanon.

The source stressed that there is a high level of coordination between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Jordan Food and Drug Administration in examining food items before they enter the local market.

The Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the source said, conducts regular tests on water to ensure the preservation of citizens’ health and safety.

Adviser to the Prime Minister for Health Affairs Adel Al-Balbisi had announced earlier that rapid tests for cholera will be conducted only on suspected cases.

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