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Regulate production

Sep 03,2018 - Last updated at Sep 03,2018

Jordanian tomato growers are up in arms because their product is no longer cost-effective, prompting some farmers to destroy their produce rather than bother sell it at a very low price that, they say, does not cover their expenses.

Scenes on social media of farmers dumping their tomato production went viral and shocked, and rightly so, many customers. There are many poor people in the country who could have used the wasted tomatoes to feed their families. According to Director General of the Jordan Farmers Union Mahmoud Oran, farmers are "angry because local production of tomatoes is abundant and of a high quality, yet since the supply is higher than the demand, the product is being sold at prices lower than the real cost". Zuhir Jweihan, vice president of Jordan Exporters and Producers Association for Fruit and Vegetables, echoed the same sentiment and warned that at this rate, Jordanians may not be able to find tomatoes in the market.

From a consumer point of view, the perennial question remains the same: Why cannot growers of tomatoes get their act together and control production so that supply and demand can reach an equilibrium of sorts that would assure them a fair price for their production.

Farmers cannot blame the country or consumers for their predicament since they  alone can control their production so that it can become cost-effective. The export market is still, for all intents and purposes, closed for Jordanian vegetables, especially across the Syrian and Iraqi borders. Jordan is working hard to access Syrian and Iraqi markets and negotiations are still going on, especially with Iraq, to have its border posts open for Jordanian exports.

And what goes for tomato exports goes for other vegetables and export products. Farmers have to reckon with these realities on the ground when they decide on the growth of their produce, especially when the local market is limited and cannot absorb abundant quantities of vegetables.

This is where authorities may have to step in and help regulate the production of vegetables and fruits with a view to encouraging farmers to control their productions, and avoid the problem that some of them had faced this year.

Surely farmers can get a relief when investments can be found for constructing factories for the “commercial canning” of the excess quantities of tomatoes and other vegetables. This is how the government can step in to help out farmers by diverting investment in this direction.

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