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Jordan farmers affected by shut down of markets

The Ministry of Agriculture has given priority to a number of sectors to work during the comprehensive lockdown, including retail stores and wholesale markets to ensure the sustainability of production. 

Ministry's Spokesperson Lawrance Al Majali on Saturday said that the ministry has issued a list of exemptions to ease the movement of workers and vehicles of priority sectors as reported by  

Regarding vegetable and fruit farms, Majali said: 'Although movement was allowed, the closure of the central markets and retail stores has affected farmers' work, as they failed to supply their crops, except for the export workshops, which on Wednesday sent 95 dispatches totalling 1,650 tonnes of vegetables.

Meanwhile, the ministry said that the central markets on Saturday evening received some 6,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables, noting that the local needs are estimated at 4,000 tonnes.  

However, after being unable to go to their farms due to the four-day national lockdown, many Jordan Valley farmers harvested their crops themselves and kept the produce in the open field. 

'The closure of markets and the inability of most farmers to obtain permits have prevented them from selling the crops which they paid and worked very hard to grow,' said Adnan Khaddam, president of the Jordan Valley Farmers Union. 

The farmers union president noted that if vegetables are harvested as little as one day after the recommended date, they will be either deemed rotten or sold at low prices, which will 'cause heavy financial losses for farmers.' 

'The imposition of a comprehensive four-day lockdown did not take into account the needs of the agricultural sector, whether the need for the daily care of crops to maintain their permanence and quality or the marketing of the produce, both of which are important for the farmer's profit,' added Khaddam.  

Yousef Hawamdeh, a farmer and a member of the union, said that 'a very small number of farmers were able to maintain permits to reach their farms, while those who could reach their farms could not find workers to harvest their crops'. 

Hawamdeh added that 'farmers who have workers residing in the farms could harvest the crops but could not sell them due to the market closure. All in all, whether not being able to reach their farms, hire help or sell the produce, the four-day lockdown was a disaster'. 

Khaddam called on the government to 'involve the farmers' union when making any decisions affecting the agricultural sector, which is a fundamental pillar of food, social and economic security'. 

The union president stressed the need to 'facilitate the access of farmers and workers to the farms to enable them to take care of the crops as well as help them market their produce.'  

The pandemic has 'exacerbated the problems of farmers who were already suffering from labour shortages, high production costs and a marketing difficulty', he added. 


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