Farmers, exporters see hope in Jaber border reopening

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Vehicles and trucks wait to exit Syria through the Jaber border crossing on September 29, 2021, after reopening. Farmers and exporters that spoke with Jordan News hope the opening will provide a route for exports. (Photo: AFP)
AMMAN — The reopening of Jaber border crossing with Syria has farmers optimistic exports will once again pick up and reflect positively on the economy at large. اضافة اعلان

Agricultural experts considered the resumption of trade between the two countries a “glimmer of hope” that their economic prospects will begin to improve.

Head of the Jordan Exporters and Producers Association for Fruit and Vegetables (JEPA), Suleiman Al-Hiyari, said in remarks to Jordan News that “the opening of the Syrian border will leave a great positive impact on the Jordanian economy as a whole.”

 “Opening the borders will leave a significant and clear impact on the agricultural sector in particular,” Hiyari said. “Exporting fruits and vegetables to the Syrian market, and through it to the Lebanese and European markets, shall help Jordanians a lot and revive their economic situation, especially those in the Jordan Valley, who were badly affected by the closure of the Syrian borders,” he added.

He said that the opening of the border will also allow Jordanians to buy fruits and vegetables at an affordable price, without having to contend with local “monopolistic practices.”

The head of the plant production division at the Directorate of Agriculture in Irbid Governorate, Hashem Al-Omari, told Jordan News that “we in Jordan suffer from the lack of marketing, as we do not know how to market our agricultural produce internationally.”

“The resumption of relations between the two countries is a great opportunity and will surely affect the agricultural sector in a positive way. We will not only export our produce to Syria, but also to Europe, Iraq, and many other countries via Syria,” Omari said.

He said that farmers have been suffering a lot over the past years, mostly from high shipping costs. “In the demand and supply equation, when there is a lack of exports, farmers lose out,” Omari said.

He said that in the coming months, he expects farmers will see some light at the end of the tunnel, as shipping costs come down, and exports of fruits and vegetables from Jordan to other countries picks up.

Omari stressed the need to ensure Jordanian farmers are able to compete. “I must mention that we are almost in the olive harvest season, and that means that we have to guarantee that Jordanian olives and olive oil are found in all markets and are able to compete.” 

“We do not want to see that Syrian (olive) oil has entered the Jordanian market,” Omari said. He added that farmers cannot afford further loses, “they had enough”. 

“Our government should make sure that no Syrian (olive) oil enters the country, and to intensify control on the border crossings to avoid any smuggling,” he added

Basel Al-Ramadneh, a farmer, told Jordan News that “Syria is like a lung that farmers breathe from. I cannot express my gratitude and appreciation enough for this decision.”

Ramadneh said that farmers have struggled over the years, and the main reason for this was closed borders. “Syria was like a bridge that connects Jordan with many countries, like Iraq, Lebanon, and European countries.”

He said that many of his farmer friends have quit farming altogether. “They were (ruined) because they had no income. Their agricultural products were thrown in the streets, they had no buyers and no exporters,” Ramadneh added. 

It is worth mentioning that over the decades, the Jaber border crossing constituted a lifeline for both countries as well as for neighboring countries, but the Syrian crisis, which has been dragging on for more than a decade led to the closure of this crossing. It was intermittently reopened in 2018, but when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the borders were completely closed.

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