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Jordan Valley farmers welcome halt to citrus imports

According to a Jordan Valley Farmers Union statement on Tuesday, the Agriculture Ministry coordinates with farmers to protect local produce.

There were reports of farmers protesting against the import of citrus fruits from abroad, President of the Jordan Valley Farmers Union Adnan Khaddam told The Jordan Times.

He confirmed that Minister of Agriculture and Environment Ibrahim Shahahdeh has halted the imports from the beginning of August until February next year in order to protect local fruit crops.

Growers suffering due to deterioration of the sector
However, according to Khaddam, farmers are suffering in general because of the continuing deterioration of the sector. Around 23,000 have accumulated debts because of the loans they took to work on their lands and the losses they suffered afterwards.

Khaddam expected that the farm land acreage will drop by 40 to 50 percent as of this season, and said about 20 percent of those who are able to retain their lands will not be able to handle the finances of farming and planting on them.

Ever since the Syrian crisis and closures of borders in 2011, the export routes to Europe and Russia closed, which is the main and direct reason why the agricultural sector in Jordan suffers. Farmers are unable to practise their profession either because of accumulated debts, the inability to export or fear of investing and then suffering losses.

There used to be around 70,000 greenhouses in the Jordan Valley, 30,000 of which were designated for European and Russian produce. The produce was delivered through Jordanian traders who had agreements with Russian and Turkish traders and transported it inside refrigerator trucks from the valley, so that in seven to eight days it would reach Europe and Russia through Syria and Turkey.

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