With local produce neglected, experts raise concern over gov’t import practices

(Photo: Envato Elements)
AMMAN — Abdullah Al-Zaben, the head of the Jordan Exporters and Producers Association for Fruit and Vegetables, has expressed concerns about the Ministry of Agriculture’s organization in managing the importation process for vegetables and fruits. اضافة اعلان

Despite the presence of ample local products to meet market demand, Zaben told Jordan News that the ministry recently imported a container of plums from South Africa, bypassing local options and failing to protect domestic production.

Highlighting the significance of agriculture and the support for farmers emphasized by His Majesty King Abdullah II, Zaben stressed the role of agencies and organizations in developing the agricultural sector.

The association comprises farmers and pioneering investors in the field, and Zaben expressed surprise at the ministry's claim that some investors and farmers prioritize personal interests over the interests of citizens and the Kingdom.

He pointed out that the ministry imported 9,000 tonnes of garlic, surpassing the volume of local production.

This decision was made to resolve a neighboring country's problem at the expense of the Kingdom’s agricultural sector.

Questioning the absence of participatory decision-making advocated by His Majesty, Zaben refuted the ministry's incorrect information regarding local consumption of plums.

Consumption claims were actually less
While the ministry claimed a daily consumption of 100 tonnes, market imports suggest a daily consumption of only 4 tonnes.

He also corrected the ministry's statement about the start of plums production in July, clarifying that it begins in May.

Furthermore, the ministry's claim that farmers provided only one tonne of plums to the market was inaccurate, as they had actually produced 151 tonnes since the beginning of the season.

He criticized the ministry's ill-considered import decisions, which resulted in local products being overshadowed by imported goods.

Diminished purchasing power among consumers
As a consequence, local vegetables and fruits remained in storage for two to three days, leading to diminished purchasing power among consumers.

Surplus of local production
Zaben emphasized the existence of surplus local production, supported by official invoices, and questioned the lack of balance between imported and local products.

Meanwhile, Sijal Al-Majali, CEO at the Rum Agriculture Company, confirmed the validity of the association's statement, emphasizing that local products are capable of meeting market needs. Majali cited the example of imported garlic, stating that local cultivation covered the market's requirements.

Harmful viruses in imported produce
Indeed, laboratory examinations at the University of Jordan revealed the presence of harmful viruses in the imported garlic, posing risks to soil health.

Majali further highlighted the financial losses incurred by farmers due to imports. He noted that Jordan's diverse climate allows for varying product availability throughout the year, ensuring alternatives are available even when specific items may be temporarily scarce. He shared that the ministry should encourage consumers to opt for alternative products in the market.

Responding to the ongoing discussions, the Ministry of Agriculture issued a statement criticizing the head of JEPA for making statements that allegedly prioritize personal farming products sold at "unacceptable" prices over farmers' interests.

The ministry reaffirmed its commitment to protecting local production, preventing monopolies and consumer exploitation, and maintaining a balanced agricultural equation among farmers, traders, and consumers.

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