Cost of agricultural inputs leading some farmers to abandon the field

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A general photo of farmers in Jordan. (File photo: JNews)
AMMAN — Jordan’s agricultural progress has been historically dependent on precipitation and local climate conditions, and while this remains true, this season’s drought, coupled with the pandemic’s impact on the global agricultural market and a rise in the cost of agricultural inputs are pushing some farmers to abandon the field entirely. اضافة اعلان

Local farmers partially rely on Jordanian suppliers to obtain essential materials for production like fertilizers and seeds, and due to an increase in transportation fees, as well as a general hike in the cost of raw agricultural materials globally, farmers are now facing financial difficulties. According to Al-Ghad News, the increase in costs of essential inputs has risen by 200 percent this season. 

The Ministry of Agriculture recently announced new measures aimed at liberalizing markets that deal with agricultural production requirements to end monopoly, abolish restrictions on trading and create a competitive and fair environment for investors.  Whether or not those measures will effectively solve the increase in production costs, is yet to be determined, according to farmers. 

Head of the Agricultural Materials Traders and Producers Association Loay Baybars told Jordan News that the hike and shortage in agricultural inputs have persisted for over a year, and became more apparent in June 2021. 

“This is when local farmers realized that they had to rely on importing their essential materials from other countries due to a decrease in the availability of these materials locally. They were also faced with a significant uptick in transportation fees, coupled with a shortage in shipping containers from the exporting countries,” said Baybars.  

According to Baybars, the cost of fertilizers has seen the most significant rise, and some particular fertilizers have gone through a 400 percent increase in price.

Baybars said the three main nutrients of the NPK compound fertilizer are potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen, and while Jordan has some locally produced potassium and phosphorus, it tends to rely on other countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia to obtain the other crucial ingredient of the NPK fertilizer, which is nitrogen. Recently, however, nitrogen exporters have either stopped providing Jordan with this component to protect the interests of their local farmers, or have been charging exorbitant fees to deter Jordanian purchases. “This has created a big problem for local farmers,” he said.

Solving the situation will be undeniably complex, Baybars maintained, proposing as one of the solutions to give Jordanian farmers priority to buy local phosphorus and potassium over foreign buyers, President of the Jordan Farmers Union Odeh Rawashdeh told Jordan News that the agriculture sector “comprises nearly 26 percent of Jordan’s gross domestic product, and that there are over 1 million people working in the agricultural and farming sector.

He could not give an exact figure of the number of farmers who have abandoned their fields, but agreed that many rely solely on farming for their livelihood.

“While some trade channels and borders are open, at the moment Jordan is not exporting any of its goods to, possibly due to the ongoing pandemic and prolonged economic barriers,” he said.  

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