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Farmers stage sit-in at Agriculture Ministry to highlight demands

AMMAN — Farmers gathered at the Ministry of Agriculture on Sunday to stage a sit-in demanding that government take measures to alleviate their continuing losses, especially since the onset of the coronavirus crisis.

The demands included allowing the hiring of foreign workers in the sector and lowering the fee of foreign worker recruitment from JD520 to the earlier JD120, Najeh Al Karaki, the spokesperson for the sit-in, told The Jordan Times on Sunday over the phone.

They also include cancelling the “peak hours” and “fuel price difference” items from the electricity bills and cancelling all taxes on fertilisers’ production inputs as well seeds and agricultural chemical products.

Additional demands included reducing fees imposed on agricultural exports to 25 per cent, at JD2.5 per tonne, and 50 per cent in the central market, at JD5 per tonne.

“Four members of parliament intervened and we had a meeting with the minister of agriculture that was very fruitful, and we will meet again tomorrow at 9am to discuss the problems of the sector with the ministers of agriculture, water, labour and industry, trade and supply, and possibly the manager of the central markets in Amman,” Karaki said.

Farmers have suffered through the coronavirus crisis, notably “The Dragon” storm that destroyed many green houses and crops. This among other issues rendered many farmers unable to meet their financial commitments.

In December, towards the end of 2020, head of the Jordan Valley Farmers Union Adnan Khaddam said he believes that “the majority of the valley’s inhabitants depend almost entirely on the agricultural sector, given that 70 per cent of the population are farmers”.

According to surveys carried out by the Ministry of Social Development’s directorates in the area, approximately 25 per cent of the valley’s population receives monthly aid from the National Aid Fund.

Last week, farmers and exporters of fruit and vegetables urged the government to approve the extension of exemption from fees imposed on produce intended for export.

President of the Jordan Exporters and Producers Association for Fruit and Vegetables Saadi Abu Hammad at the time said that the delay in issuing a decision is “seriously harming farmers, especially the small-scale farmers, and will result in many financial burdens for them”.

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