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‘Agricultural exports drop 27% in first four months of 2015’

By Hana Namrouqa - May 12,2015 - Last updated at May 12,2015

AMMAN — Agricultural produce exports dropped by 27 per cent during the first third of this year compared to the same period last year, government officials said on Tuesday.

The Kingdom exported 214,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables during the first four months of this year, while the figure stood at 295,000 tonnes in the same period last year, Agriculture Minister Akef Zu’bi said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times.

Zu’bi attributed the decline to the closure of the border with Iraq during most of the first four months of 2015, in addition to the ongoing closure of the border with Syria.

Jordan closed the Jaber border crossing with Syria early last month 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.

Agriculture Ministry Spokesperson Nimer Haddadin said vegetables constituted 95 per cent of the exports, and 5 per cent were fruits, noting that the Gulf market was the main importer of local produce (53.6 per cent), followed by Syria (25.2 per cent), Iraq (14 per cent), Israel (5 per cent) and a number of European countries (2 per cent).

“Tomatoes made up 60 per cent of the vegetables exported during the first third of this year, while over 50 per cent of the exported fruits were melons and watermelons,” Haddadin added.

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