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The forgotten sector!

Sep 05,2020 - Last updated at Sep 05,2020

We do not hear much about the agricultural sector in the country.

There has been for years a lot of talk about improving the country’s economy, and some talk about self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

Several sectors are mentioned with this end in mind: the IT, the energy, the industry, the higher education, the transportation, the tourism sector, etc.

Little or nothing is said about the role of the agricultural sector.

Once upon a time, the country paid a lot of attention to agriculture and high hopes were pinned on it for being an economic pillar.

Over the past four decades or more, however, the sector underwent a lot of marginalisation and neglect.

Due to inadequate planning and the chaotic expansion of urban centres throughout the Kingdom, much of arable land was lost.

The children of many farming or rural families migrated to cities to study, work and settle; few or none went back to take care of the land.

Water is scarce, and the various challenges and problems the farmers were suffering from fell largely on deaf ears.

The many outstanding post-secondary agricultural programmes lost their luster, and they are complaining of the lack of sufficient student recruitment, as job opportunities for the graduates have become a lot scarcer.

At present, however, things seem to be slightly changing, and some have started pointing to the agricultural sector as presenting a viable opportunity and option.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which hit hard last March and crippled global mobility and openness, has compelled many to start asking questions, and rethinking a lot of moves, plans and priorities.

When the lockdown was strictly enforced in Jordan for more than two months, as a result of which several commodities from abroad became harder to find, people began to reflect on the country’s dependence on others for so many things.

Agriculture returned to discourse as a means of the country’s reliance on itself. At least, we can secure our needs when it comes to vegetables, fruit and agricultural foodstuffs, many began to say.

The experts insist that agriculture represents a viable option, and that decision-makers in the country should start focusing on capitalising on the many benefits that the sector can bring about: for the people and for the economy.

Jordan is home to the earliest human settlements in history, and for many centuries our part of the world relied on agriculture as a crucial pillar.

Obviously, times have changed, and nations are relying on so many other sectors for survival, sustenance and advancement.

Agriculture, however, continues to present a viable option; and we need to listen to the experts and make the best of what it can offer.

No matter what, the sector should be neither neglected nor forgotten.

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