Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jordan -take 2

In the Jordanian newspapers today, the outline of Jordan's response to the food crisis, and some info about the current farming situation. Strategic grain reserves will be buil for six months, and the subsidies will remain. They appear to be quite large: the market price of the popular Arabic bread (pitta type) is less than 1/3 of its production costs. The government has also lifted import duties on many imported foods, especially meats and fish. News about the current ceral season confirm my impressions of yesterday: In the North, near the region of Irbid, most of the crop will not bear, and will have to be sold as pastures. The reason: rainfall this year has been just over 50% of the annual average, and this is the highest raifall area of Jordan. Barley and wheat farmers have lost their crop, and will rent the cropped land to herders who will graze their flocks, for the meagre sum of $200 per hectare, when the cost of planting is nearly $300 per hectare. Besides the financial losses, there is another danger: next year, the farmers will not have seeds to plant their fields. The government will probably provide seeds, but the traditional varieties, selected by farmers over decades and centuries will slowly erode, to be replaced by commercial varieties provided by the state.

Elsewhere in the newspapers, a large number of ads for a "Stop Hunger Campaign" organized by one of the members of the royal family. This is very common here, many NGOs and practically all the large ones, operate under the auspices of one of the royals. It's not the Syrian GONGOs (Governmental non-governmental organizations), but we're not too far. The Campaign is also widely advertized on billboards throughout the city.

Two other pieces of news that appeared to be of interest: Jordan will soon start extracting uranium from its phosphate ore mines, and the Arab Human Right's Organization is unhappy about the situation in Jordan. Its recent annual report, documents 122 cases of violence by the security forces on prisoners.

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