Concerted efforts needed to ensure sustainable agriculture

The National Plan for Sustainable Agriculture 2022-2025, aims to improve the living conditions of farmers and increase the productivity of the agricultural sector. (Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Agriculture stakeholders on Tuesday welcomed the government’s National Plan for Sustainable Agriculture, announced by Minister of Agriculture Khaled Hneifat, stressing the importance of coordination among various concerned authorities and of unifying efforts to implement the plan.اضافة اعلان

On Sunday, Hneifat introduced the National Plan for Sustainable Agriculture 2022-2025, which aims to improve the living conditions of farmers and increase the productivity of the agricultural sector.

The plan includes 73 projects, of which 45 to be implemented in 2022, for which a total of JD389 million were allocated.

It is based on five main objectives that are: improving the farmers’ living conditions, increasing the productivity of the agricultural sector, improving the efficiency of irrigation and saving water, creating job opportunities in the agricultural sector, and establishing partnerships with and securing investment from the private sector.

MP Mohammad Al-Alagmeh, head of the Lower House’s Agriculture and Water Committee, praised the plan, describing it as a step in the right direction.

Alagmeh said that the committee members will follow up on the implementation of the plan and hold periodical meetings to check on its progress.

Audeh Rawashdeh, president of the General Union of Jordanian Farmers (GUJF), commended the strategy which, he said, is the result of endeavors and calls to improve the agricultural sector and address the challenges it faces.

Those endeavors are spearheaded by the directives to focus on the sector and invest in it, issued by His Majesty King Abdullah, as well as by His Majesty’s continuous field visits, during which he checked on the farmer’s situation and listened from them, said Rawashdeh.

He asked concerned authorities for loan forgiveness, in the case of loans taken by farmers from the Agricultural Credit Corporation, to help them start over and be able remain in the sector after 10 year of struggling due to the closure of traditional markets as a result of regional crises.

On the ground, the agricultural sector has not seen anything new for decades and problems increase annually, whether in terms of legislation, laws or climate changes, GUJF General Manger Mahmoud Al-Oran said, adding that the sector needs overall restructuring, as well as studying the priorities and needs of each of its segments.

According to Oran, it will not be easy to implement this plan because there are overlaps with many official authorities, such as the ministries of water, environment, industry and trade, and the Greater Amman Municipality.

These institutions should coordinate with the Ministry of Agriculture and join efforts to make the plan implementable by removing any obstacles from their sides, such as reducing taxes and finding sustainable water solutions, Oran said.

“The Ministry of Agriculture should be the only authority responsible for the sector and no decision, fee or legislation should be passed without the ministry’s approval”, said Oran.

He called for forming a partnership council, including members from all concerned bodies, to reach insightful decisions that would achieve the set objective without favoring a segment at the expense of another.

The plan’s five objectives include reducing the production cost through controlling prices of agricultural input such as pesticides and fertilizers, and granting concessional loans with not interests.

Farmer Ibrahim Sharif expressed hope that the plan gets implemented and its outcome will be reflected on the ground soon.

Regarding loans, Sharif said that, like himself, many farmers cannot apply for anymore loans as they already have taken some and currently struggle with paying them back.

“We took loans few years ago because of a crisis caused by a natural disaster that hit our farms, and we are still dealing with those loans, which were rescheduled many times and whose value increased tremendously,” said Sharif.

During a visit to North Ghor (northern Jordan Valley) on Monday, His Majesty King Abdullah stressed the importance of benefiting from modern technology in the agricultural field, and finding effective solutions to mitigate the effects of water scarcity.

His Majesty noted that a number of Arab countries expressed willingness to invest in the Jordanian agricultural sector, out of concern for food security, which is an important Jordanian and regional goal, pointing to the need for coordination in this regard, since the necessary capabilities to achieve this goal are available.

The King urged the people of the region to submit proposals on projects and ideas that would help boost the agricultural sector and that would be adopted as projects to be implemented by various institutions.

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