Minister promotes self-sufficiency, economic growth in agricultural sector

Water scarcity remains a challenge in achieving self-sufficiency in wheat production — minister

Union for the Mediterranean Farmers tomato
(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — In an interview with Al-Mamlaka TV, Minister of Agriculture Khaled Al-Hneifat highlighted the significance of water scarcity as a major obstacle to achieving self-sufficiency in wheat production.اضافة اعلان

Jordan, he said, requires nearly 1 billion cubic meters of water to attain self-sufficiency in wheat production.

However, the country's total annual water budget is approximately 1 billion cubic meters, with only half allocated to agriculture. Within the allocated water, 180 million cubic meters are reserved for restricted crops, further constraining efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in wheat production.

Encouraging cultivation methods and supporting local farmersTo address the water scarcity challenge, the Ministry of Agriculture promotes the cultivation of durum wheat and supplementary irrigation in certain areas.

Additionally, the ministry purchases wheat from local farms at a significantly higher price than the global market, providing support to farmers and bolstering their income.

Hneifat emphasized the importance of preserving the genes of local wheat and maintaining traditional methods of seedling establishment, ensuring the continuation of Jordan's agricultural heritage.

Agricultural sector as a driver of economic growthHneifat credited His Majesty King Abdullah's continuous attention and support for the agricultural sector's remarkable progress in recent years, transforming it into a key driver of Jordan's economic growth.

Over the past two and a half years, the Ministry of Agriculture has achieved a qualitative leap on all levels.

The agricultural sector contributes approximately 20 percent to the national economy and represents 6 percent of the GDP. It employs 400,000 workers, including both permanent and seasonal workers, with a significant number of foreign workers.

The Ministry of Agriculture is implementing the National Sustainable Agriculture Plan (2022–2025), a collaborative effort with 72 initiatives, 57 of which involve partnerships with the private sector.

The plan aims to create employment opportunities for youth and rural women, reduce production costs, support farmers with subsidized loans, and open new export markets for Jordanian products.

Over the course of its implementation, the plan is expected to provide 32,000 permanent jobs and numerous temporary and seasonal employment opportunities.

Hneifat highlighted the ministry's efforts in water management and environmental conservation.

The ministry has constructed numerous ponds, earthen dams, and rainwater harvesting wells to collect and conserve water resources in the country's arid regions. Additionally, the National Reforestation Project aims to enhance green spaces and biodiversity through extensive planting initiatives.

He said that the ministry is working on reforesting 2,200 dunums in Al-Qatrana by planting 100,000 trees. Additionally, there are plans for reforesting the Al-Abyad Oasis with 1,000 dunums and the Aneiza Oasis with 2,000 dunums.

The ministry collaborates with local initiatives to address food waste management and raise awareness about the environmental impact of food waste.

The minister mentioned that studies have shown that food waste amounts to 950,000 tonnes annually, accounting for 30 percent of Jordanians' food and resulting in wastage of 50 percent of production cycles.

Focus on training and advisory services
To enhance farmers' skills and knowledge, the ministry has established 22 advisory centers and introduced electric cars to support field advisory services. Furthermore, the ministry has set up training centers for farmers and unemployed individuals to learn modern agricultural techniques.

With a focus on improving the quality of these centers, the ministry aims to provide comprehensive support to farmers through a database that connects advisors with farmers and relevant departments.

Interest-free loans and financial support
The Agricultural Credit Corporation has provided loans worth JD110 million to farmers, with approximately JD55 million offered interest-free.

These loans have facilitated the adoption of modern agricultural technologies, such as mechanization, water conservation, and food processing. The ministry also supports seed production and rural development projects, offering loans for cattle fattening, rural entrepreneurship, and women's empowerment.

Promoting innovation and digital services
The Ministry of Agriculture has established the Agricultural Innovation Incubator, which supports entrepreneurs and start-ups in the agricultural industry.

The incubator provides guidance, financial support, and interest-free loans to transform innovative ideas into pioneering projects.

The ministry has also introduced electronic services, enabling licensing procedures to be completed electronically through the "Sanad" application. The agricultural ID system has been launched to facilitate identification for workers in the sector.

Investment in food manufacturing and veterinary services
The ministry is investing in food manufacturing projects by establishing factories and supporting local production. In collaboration with traders, the ministry aims to regulate the central market for vegetables and fruits, ensuring the interests of both farmers and consumers.

Furthermore, efforts are underway to strengthen veterinary services with the establishment of three veterinary medical centers and a comprehensive campaign against Foot-and-Mouth Disease.

Hneifat's initiatives and reforms in Jordan's agricultural sector reflect a comprehensive strategy aimed at achieving self-sufficiency, promoting economic growth, supporting farmers, preserving traditional agricultural practices, and addressing environmental challenges.

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