Jordan far from reaching wheat self sufficiency

Agricultural lands in Jordan constitute only 10 percent of the total area of ​​Jordan. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — While in urgent need to reach self-sufficiency and reduce dependence on imports, Jordan is facing a problem, represented in the decline in the cultivation of some basic foodstuffs, especially wheat. Jordan’s self-sufficiency in wheat has reached only 3 percent.اضافة اعلان

Secretary-General of the Jordanian Farmers Union Mahmoud Al-Oran said that there are several reasons for the poor production of some produce, including wheat, particularly climatic changes, shortage of laborers, and property fragmentation. All these “directly and clearly” had an impact and are reasons for the “noticeable decline in the cultivation of field crops, in particular wheat and barley”.

Oran stressed that scientific research is the only solution to confronting climatic changes like fluctuations in rainfall and an evident shift in temperature. 

Although rainfall may have reached a safe rate so far this winter, the agricultural sector needs this rate to continue for at least two months. “Since wheat is highly dependent on water, it is the most vulnerable to this climate change,” Oran said.

As for the lack of laborers in the agricultural sector, Oran believes this is due to social reasons. In the past, people used to participate in farming and help each other throughout the season. Now this is no longer common for several reasons, including preoccupation with education and work.

Since the terrain of Jordan is diverse, and often difficult to access, like the many steep areas, Oran said that it is not always possible to rely on machines to perform agricultural work.

On the other hand, there is a surplus of some crops, such as tomatoes; Jordanians need about 500 to 600 tonnes daily and some high-altitude farming areas produce nearly 1,000 tonnes per day. The solution to this, said Oran, is to organize the sector and prioritize field crops like wheat and barley, which are more important to reaching food security.

Jordan will hopefully be able to exploit the agricultural lands that depend on artesian wells and the Jordan Valley areas to grow wheat and other field crops, Oran said, stressing that this will not be achieved without plans and strategies, developed by experts and specialists, to exploit the rainfall and determine the agricultural areas appropriate for these crops.

Ibrahim Al-Sharif, head of the Jordan Farmers’ Association, told Jordan News: “For Jordan to have wheat self-sufficiency ranging between 3 percent and 5 percent is really unfortunate.” 

Sharif added that farmers and the government must use all regions of Jordan, without exception, to achieve at least a minimum level of self-sufficiency. In his opinion, the Jordan Valley area should be left to grow vegetables for the winter, but the water basins in the south and north of Jordan, which are exploited more by neighboring countries, should be taken advantage of. 

Sharif stressed that “strategic depth and absolute self-sufficiency lies in exploiting desert areas’ renewable groundwater wells”, whose water, unfortunately, is largely consumed by neighboring countries, while “Jordan use only 10 percent of it”.

Agricultural lands in Jordan constitute only 10 percent of the total area of Jordan, and only 3 percent of this is actually cultivated. This pushes many to turn to sectors that provide more income. 

While agriculture is no longer what it used to be, the percentage of cultivated land in Jordan will always decline, he added, attributing this to the government, whose “unfair decisions against the agricultural sector had a role in keeping many farmers away from this field, choosing other jobs and moving to the city”, said Oran. 

Jordan News tried to contact the Ministry of Agriculture spokesman for a comment on the issue, but he was unreachable.

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