Frost, production costs behind increase in vegetable and fruit prices

1.frost - pixabay
(Photo: Pixabay)
AMMAN — A hike in prices of vegetables and fruits is not caused by exports but due to other contributing factors, like frost, planting cycles, and the decline in agricultural areas as more farmers abandon their farmlands because of losses, according to stakeholders.  اضافة اعلان

Audeh Rawashdeh, president of the Jordan Farmers Union, told Jordan News that almost all Jordan’s traditional export markets for vegetables and fruit are closed because of the closure of the Syrian borders.

Even when Syria is open to Jordan, its borders with other countries are closed such as its northern border with Turkey, which means that the Jordanian exports to East Europe cannot pass, according to Rawashdeh.

Exports to other neighboring countries such as Iraq and the Gulf countries are humble as they are part of multi-party free trade agreements, Rawashdeh said, asserting that exporting is not the reason for any hike in prices of vegetables and fruit in Jordan.

Some farmers have reduced the size of the area they used to cultivate and others have even quit the whole business due to their inability to cover the cost of the produce. “Sale prices of the produce are generally below the production cost, and only during the shifts from a planting cycle to another or during severe weather conditions prices go up, and temporarily,” said Rawashdeh. 

He criticized individuals who show up and become vocal only when produce prices go up, and do not show any compassion towards farmers’ challenges throughout the year. “Why don’t they say something when the price of 1kg of tomatoes plummets down to 30 piasters,” Rawashdeh enquired.

Mohammad Sharif, a farmer, said that conventional land exploitation has almost disappeared due to closure of borders with Syria and COVID-19, adding that some frost waves would destroy 100 percent of the zucchini, tomato or potato produce, and reduce the production of other crops.

Other factors that affect produce prices are production input costs and labor wages, according to Sharif, who said that input costs have increased by 100 percent and labor by 50 percent. 

Sharif was among farmers who were recently hosted at the Royal Court for a meeting with King Abdullah to present the concerns of the sector.  He voiced appreciation of the King’s attention to farmers and the challenges they have come to face.

During a visit to a farm project in December, King Abdullah underscored the need for quantitative and qualitative leaps in agricultural production to benefit Jordanians and enhance food security in the country, noting the importance of diversifying crops in the Jordan Valley to bolster the agricultural sector and the national economy.

Sharif also commended the efforts of Agriculture Minister Khaled Hneifat in developing the sector and dealing with the farmers’ challenges, noting that the minster has been following up in person on farmers who were hit by the latest frost wave.

According to a statement obtained by Jordan News from the Jordan Farmers Union, Jordanian farmers produce 6,000 tons of fruits and vegetables daily, which is sufficient to meet the needs of the local market.

The statement noted that the agricultural sector proved resilient and “the strongest” during the COVID-19 lockdowns and closure of borders, maintaining steady production to fulfill the needs of the Jordanian local markets.

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