Monday, November 10, 2008

In the newspaper

In one of the main Jordanian newspapers today (Al Ra'i, Arabic) there were 8 articles about the king (including the whole front page) and 7 articles about Obama.

There were also 11 articles (!) about agriculture, environment, food safety, development and poverty alleviation. Most of the articles were small news items about projects and funds allocation for microcredit. The most interesting one was a news item about farmers and exporters refusing to abide by a new regulation enforcing quality control on exported goods. The producers say this will make them uncompetitive and is not required in the countries they traditionally export to. The government says: this is a regulation and you should apply it. I say: this is probably the outcome of one of the projects to enhance export to the EU or the US, which requires strict quality control on exports. This is causing problems in Jordan as in Lebanon as the traditional markets in the Arab world do not require all the paperwork imposed by Europe and the US and other countries. Export to these countries is still minimal and there are no justifications for enhancing it: cost of transport is too high, both financially and environmentally, and competition is too stiff. The Arab market is huge, and this is where the primary markets should be. In any case, I question the validity of water intensive horticultural production is a country starved of water.

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