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Heatwave adds to farmers’ pains from virus crisis, recent sandstorm

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Sep 16,2020 - Last updated at Sep 16,2020

AMMAN — The recent heatwave that has impacted the Kingdom since the end of August has affected farmers and caused them more losses and suffering, Jordan Valley Farmers Union President Adnan Khaddam said on Wednesday.

The sector has been suffering ever since a sandstorm named “The Dragon” hit the Kingdom in March, coinciding with the beginning of the coronavirus crisis in Jordan as well, Khaddam told The Jordan Times over the phone. 

“The preparations for the next season did not exceed 35 per cent, mainly due to the accumulated losses from the storm, the coronavirus crisis and the heatwave, to the extent that farmers are unable to cover their expenses,” Khaddam said.

More than a year ago, expatriate workers in the sector stopped working, Khaddam said, adding “expatriates are a crucial component of the agricultural sector, especially with regard to working in green houses”.

The union president said that many farmers had already taken loans from the Agricultural Credit Corporation (ACC) and they are no longer eligible to borrow.

“The JD10 million that the ACC provided required a lien from the farmers, with each making around JD4,000 to JD5,000 when the losses they suffered are already above JD7,000,” Khaddam said, 

“All sectors suffered during the crisis, but the agriculture sector remains vital for the Kingdom’s strategic reserve of local produce, and it needs to at least mitigate and stop its losses,” he noted. 

President of the General Union of Jordanian Farmers Odeh Rawashdeh said that farmers across the Kingdom “have been through harsh conditions, always planting their crops with the hope that they will be able to make enough profit and pay their dues”.

Rawashdeh reiterated Khaddam’s statement, hoping that the government would “manifest” the Royal directives of His Majesty by supporting the sector and the farmers. 

“In spite of all the difficult conditions, the farmers still followed their duty during the coronavirus crisis in particular, when they provided sufficient produce to the people, serving citizens and the country,” he noted.

President of the general union also highlighted "the suffering of livestock and chicken breeders", noting that livestock farmers also find it difficult to secure food for their cattle.

“We hope the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply, which has already been very cooperative, to help in this regard by providing feed at affordable prices,” Rawashdeh concluded.

The Jordan Times attempted to contact the Ministry of Agriculture’s spokesperson several times, but to no avail.

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