Strategic crops encouraged to improve country’s food security

(Photo: Freepik)
AMMAN — Minister of Agriculture Khaled Hneifat announced on Sunday that the ministry is adopting a four-tier plan to encourage the cultivation of wheat and barley. اضافة اعلان

Ministry spokesperson Lawrence Al-Majali told Jordan News that the plan will focus on allocating interest-free loan packages, through the Agricultural Credit Corporation, for the production requirements of field crops.

He added that the seeds needed to cultivate wheat and barley will be given by taking into consideration the geographical areas targeted and the climatic conditions.

In addition, the ministry will continue to buy locally farmed wheat and barley at subsidized prices, which are higher than the international price of these crops. Majali said that this should lead to increasing the production of these strategic crops, despite Jordan’s water challenges which are compounded by climate change and low rainfall rates.

Majali said that Jordan’s annual need is estimated at 1 million tonnes of wheat, and that the Kingdom’s local production does not exceed 30,000 tonnes.

Taking part on Sunday in a Scientific Research Society discussion of strategies to expand wheat and barley cultivation as strategic crops, which constitute the cornerstone of the food security pyramid, Hneifat talked about the role of his ministry in supporting farmers, overcoming challenges, and setting plans to achieve the largest possible return and to increase agricultural areas.

Head of the Farmers Union Mahmoud Al-Oran told Jordan News that the package of measures suggested by the ministry is satisfactory and will contribute to encouraging farmers to plant wheat and barley, but pointed to the need to coordinate with the Meteorological Department during each agricultural season to gauge the expected rainfall rates and the areas that are most likely to give the largest yields.
Majali said that Jordan’s annual need is estimated at 1 million tons of wheat, and that the Kingdom’s local production does not exceed 30,000 tons.
Oran reiterated that the endemic water shortages and climate change are the farmers’ biggest challenges, and called for finding solutions to water shortages, including by drilling new artesian wells to irrigate the crops.

Farmer Mishaal Al-Arameen told Jordan News that he grew wheat in large quantities for many years, but the many challenges Jordanian farmers face pushed many of them away from such crops.

According to Arameen, farms in the southern regions, such as Wadi Al-Hasa, were full of grain crops, but today most of them are barren.

Head of the Agricultural Materials Traders and Procedures Association Mohammad Baibars told Jordan News that the Kingdom would not reach self-sufficiency in the two strategic grains for several reasons, most notably fluctuations in annual rainfall rates, urban expansion at the expense of agricultural lands, and high costs that most farmers cannot afford.

He highlighted the role of the Ministry of Agriculture in expanding farming in western regions, such as Al Hammad Basin and Al Mudawra, which, in his opinion, will lead to a guaranteed production of wheat.

If this works out according to plan, and if buying locally farmed wheat at double world price continues, there will be a trend among farmers to grow wheat, he said.

“Once this happens, the private sector could respond by investing in bigger wheat and barley cultivation projects,” Baibars said, stressing that it is necessary to find a good supply of seeds and provide farmers with harvesting machines, “which are costly”.

Baibars said that currently, local production of wheat covers only 2 percent of the Kingdom’s needs, and if the ministry’s plan is activated successfully, it could rise to meet 10 percent of Jordan’s needs.

“In order to achieve this goal, we need to cultivate 350,000 to 400,000 dunums,” he stressed.

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