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Agricultural exports drop by 15% in first half

By Hana Namrouqa - Jul 06,2015 - Last updated at Jul 06,2015

AMMAN — Exports of agricultural produce dropped by 15 per cent during the first half of this year compared to the same period last year, government officials said on Monday.

The Kingdom exported 391,007 tonnes of fruits and vegetables generating JD230 million during the first six months of this year, while the figure stood at 461,000 tonnes in the same period last year, Agriculture Ministry Spokesperson Nimer Haddadin said.

“The fact that Jordan’s borders with Syria have been closed for the past three months, in addition to the closure of the border with Iraq during most of the first four months of 2015 caused a drop in the country’s agricultural exports,” Haddadin told The Jordan Times.

Jordan closed the Jaber border crossing with Syria in April for security reasons. Passenger and cargo traffic across the border was halted as a result of escalating violence in the Syrian town of Nasib, located near the border.

Ramtha, the other border crossing with Syria, has been closed for nearly four years, except for humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country in compliance with a UN decision taken last year.

A total of 1,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables, worth millions of Jordanian dinars, used to be exported every day to Syria and Lebanon, according to the Jordan Exporters and Producers Association for Fruits and Vegetables.

Haddadin expected the Kingdom’s exports of agricultural produce to improve during the second half of the year, noting that more fruits and vegetables are being exported to Gulf countries, which now import 70-80 per cent of their produce needs from Jordan due to the unrest in Syria.

The drop in this year’s exports compared to last year is starting to diminish, Haddadin said, noting that in April exports dropped by 27 per cent compared to the same month in 2014, while in May it was 21 per cent.

“The drop in exports this year is expected to be overcome during the next three months because demand for the country’s fruits and vegetables is mounting in the Gulf states,” he said.

Minister of Agriculture Akef Zu’bi said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times that produce exports are starting to improve. 

In June, the country exported 100,000 tonnes of produce to 23 markets, registering a 10.7 per cent increase compared to June last year and a 29 per cent increase compared to May, according to Zu’bi.

Fruit constituted 37.6 per cent of June’s exports due to the increasing the production of summer fruits, the minister said.

 

The Gulf market was the main importer of local produce with 93 per cent, followed by Iraq (3.8 per cent), Europe (1.6 per cent), Egypt (0.3 per cent) and Israel (0.3 per cent). 

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