FAO GLOBAL INFORMATION AND EARLY WARNING SYSTEM ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME

FAO/WFP CROP AND FOOD SUPPLY ASSESSMENT MISSION TO THE KINGDOM OF JORDAN
26 May 1999

----

-------

Mission Highlights

  • Worst drought in decades decimates cereal crops and sharply reduces output of horticultural produce
  • Many sheep farms face financial ruin as production costs soar and products diminish in quality and quantity.
  • Food security prospects likely to worsen as production falls, economic problems intensify and unemployment rises to unprecedented high levels.
  • Cereal import requirement for 1999/2000 (July/June) estimated at 1.94 million tonnes to be covered mostly on commercial terms.
  • Some 387 000 tonnes are needed as emergency and programme food aid, of which 100 000 tonnes are already pledged.
  • Of particular concern are some 180 000 drought-affected people comprising smallholders who have lost not only their harvest but also their inputs, small scale herders and landless rural households, who would require an estimated 14 400 tonnes of wheat and 1 300 tonnes of pulses in emergency food assistance for eight months.
  • Emergency support to the agricultural sector is urgently needed to revive production capacity for next year.


-------

1. OVERVIEW

Following the declaration by the Government of Jordan of a national drought emergency in the Kingdom, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited the country from 28 April to 15 May 1999 to assess the effect of the drought on food production, livestock and farm resources, estimate the cereal import requirements, including possible food aid needs and identify emergency support and remedial measures for the agricultural sector.

The Mission, working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, reviewed the latest releases and reports from the Government, UN and bilateral agencies, international analysts and NGOs working in the Kingdom. Discussions were held with key informants in all related ministries, including Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The activities of the Mission were followed closely by the major donors. USAID provided an international observer to accompany the Mission on sample field trips.

The unprecedented drought could not have come at a worse time. Unemployment is unofficially estimated at 25 percent. The UN trade embargo on Iraq and loss of the all-important Saudi Arabian-Gulf States market for goods and services in the wake of the Gulf war, have reduced exports and dampened investment in the production sectors. A fall in foreign currency revenues and debt repayment of US$850 million per annum means that the country's capacity to increase imports is seriously constrained.

Against this adverse backdrop, the Mission forecasts the lowest recorded domestic cereal harvest at 13 000 tonnes. This will be sufficient to cover 0.6 percent of the domestic requirement instead of about 10 percent usually expected.

Rainfed fruit production is severely reduced and rainfed vegetable production is virtually nil this year. The irrigated sector shows a significant reversal of the growth experienced over the past six years. The total production of vegetables from this sector is 23 percent below last year.

The livestock sector is similarly affected. Domestic production of red meat and milk is around 40 percent below usual levels. Sheep and goat farmers are making losses and will have to depend almost entirely on imported barley and straw for the coming year. An outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease has exacerbated drought-induced production losses and further outbreaks of diseases are anticipated.

The cereal import requirement for the marketing year 1999/2000 (July/June) is estimated at 1.936 million tonnes, comprising 742 000 tonnes of wheat, 725 000 tonnes of barley, 370 000 tonnes of maize and 99 000 tonnes of rice. Reflecting the serious economic difficulties facing the country, only 80 percent of the requirement is anticipated to be covered commercially, leaving a deficit of 387 000 tonnes to be covered by emergency and programme food aid, of which 100 000 tonnes are already pledged. The Mission estimates that some 180 000 drought affected people, comprising smallholders, small scale herders and landless rural households will require emergency food aid of 15 700 tonnes (14 400 tonnes of wheat and 1 300 tonnes of pulses) for eight months from September 1999 through April 2000.

To revive production capacity for next year, emergency support to the agriculture sector should include the establishment and distribution of an appropriate seed stock for rainfed cereal production next year; the provision of seed, agrochemicals for pest control, fertilizers and recovery packages in the vegetable and fruit sector; the provision of barley to meet extra annual feed requirements and mineral-vitamin blocks to balance livestock rations; the provision of vaccines to cover possible outbreaks of stress-induced diseases with a training package for vaccinators; and, finally, the provision of credit facilities to assist farmers in accessing the inputs and support services.

-------

2. SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONTEXT AND THE AGRICULTURE SECTOR 1/

1/ The contents of this section are based on a variety of sources, including reports of the Jordan Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Statistics, Central Bank of Jordan, World Bank, and Economic intelligence Unit.

Jordan had an officially estimated population of 4.75 million in 1998. About 75 percent of the country's area is sparsely populated desert or semi-desert. It has few natural resources, little water and less than 10 percent of agricultural land. Already among the world's most water-scarce countries, Jordan faces increasing deterioration in the quantity and quality of its water resources.

Historically, the Jordanian economy made remarkable progress during the period 1972-1982, due to political and economic stability assisted by foreign transfers in the form of substantial foreign loans and grants and increasing remittances from Jordanians working abroad. During this period, real GDP registered an impressive annual growth rate of over 8 percent. However, economic recession since 1983 as a result of a downturn in the regional economy brought on by a fall in oil revenues has had serious repercussions on the various sectors. Demand for Jordanian labour in the Gulf fell sharply, cutting workers' remittances and creating domestic unemployment. Exports of manufactured and agricultural goods also fell sharply. During the second half of the 1980s, real GDP growth contracted sharply. Unemployment in this period rose from less than 5 percent to 19 percent, while inflation increased from three to 25 percent per annum. External indebtedness jumped from US$2 billion to over US$9 billion. Recent reports indicate that the rate of unemployment has risen to about 25 percent. A 1994 World Bank poverty study of Jordan indicated that households in absolute poverty rose from three to 15 percent between 1987 and 1992.

In 1989, the government embarked on an ambitious reform programme to stabilise the economy, improve efficiency, and broaden the role of the private sector. However, the Gulf conflict in 1990 and the subsequent imposition of UN trade embargo on Iraq led to a deterioration of the economic climate, with a reduction of more than 40 percent between 1990 and 1991 in the country's exports. Then, starting in 1992 an economic boom took place that was fuelled in part by the substantial savings brought back by the Gulf returnees, some 300 000 workers, and increased private sector activity. Over the period 1992-1996 real GDP growth rates averaged 9 percent per annum, with a low average rate of inflation of about 4 percent.

However, since 1996 economic growth has almost ground to a halt. Major problems have been the slow revival of Jordan's traditional export markets in the wake of the Gulf war, due largely to the oil price collapse that hampered the revival of Gulf markets. Foreign currency reserves declined from a peak of US$1.7 billion at the end of 1997, enough to cover 5.4 months of imports, to US$1.4 billion in February 1999. The outstanding external debt has also increased from US$6.4 billion in 1997 to an estimated US$7.14 billion in 1998. Despite Jordan's success in reducing its foreign debt, from 190 percent of GDP in 1990 to 92.5 percent in 1997, repayments are forecast to increase from about US$500 million annually in 1997 and 1998 to US$850 million per year in 1999 and 2000, about 27 percent of Jordan's annual budget.

Given its dire economic conditions, therefore, the country will need increased external financial support. Recently the IMF approved credits totalling about US$220 million in support of the nation's economic adjustment and structural reform programme for the period 1999-2001, and to help offset the impact of a shortfall in exports of goods and services.

During the 1998/99 agricultural season, starting from October 1998, one of the driest winters on record has led to a sharp drop in dam water levels, seriously reducing agricultural production and exacerbating the economic problems the country was already facing. The government officially declared a state of drought emergency in January 1999 and introduced a range of measures to save water and to support the struggling farming population.

Jordan's land area is divided into five zones: semi-desert, arid, semi-arid, semi-humid and the Jordan Valley, which have widely differing agricultural potential. Arable land amounting to 410 000 hectares is concentrated in the north-west-central areas receiving more than 200 mm of rainfall. Of this land, 56 300 hectares that are located in the Jordan Valley and the upland areas are irrigated. In the Jordan Valley, water from the Yarmuk and Zarqa rivers and smaller wadis is distributed to farm tanks. Following irrigation, used water is drained into the Jordan river. Upland irrigation is provided from pump bore-holes and springs. These water sources are used for full time and supplementary irrigation of vegetables and fruit trees and account for 60 percent of the national production.

The agricultural sector comprises three sub-sectors, cereal production, fruit and vegetable production and livestock production. Cereals are produced under rainfed conditions during winter (October to April). Production of the main cereal crops, wheat and barley, varies considerably from year to year depending on rainfall amounts and distribution. Even in the best production years, the national cereal harvest covers only about 10 percent of domestic requirements. Imports of grain for food and feed, normally covered through commercial channels, average 1.2 to 1.4 million tonnes per year.

Jordan is self-sufficient in vegetables and fruit and produces a surplus for export, mainly to the Gulf States. Intensive vegetable production comes from the irrigated areas, while supplementary irrigation is important for olives, grapes and stone fruit and usually begins in May/June with water purchased from bore hole owners or municipalities. Less consistent supplementary irrigation from springs supports winter vegetable and fruit production.

Livestock production systems include intensive poultry production based on imported maize; intensive dairying based on irrigated forage and imported concentrates and straights; and a unique sheep and goat production system integrating the use of barley, of which around 10 percent is home-grown, cereal by-products both homegrown and imported, and the grazing of ranges and pastures. Domestic production satisfies domestic egg and poultry meat requirements, and 30 percent of bovine dairy products.

Sheep and goat systems producing some 20 percent of domestic milk and 24 percent of domestic red meat are more vulnerable to drought as the use of home-grown cereals, cereal by-products and range grazing dominates the rations. Traditional stock movement, within national boundaries, accommodates access according to seasonal availability. Notwithstanding forage inputs, barley and wheat bran are fed, on average, for eight to nine months per year.

Livestock numbers are comparatively stable at 1.6 million breeding ewes, 526 000 breeding does and 38 000 breeding cattle, 1 807 broiler farms and 187 layer units. There is a business-like approach evident in the main core of producers. Whilst opportunistic buying and selling of sheep and goats may occur, it is noted that some 70 percent of holders must be considered as dedicated sheep/goat farmers with a stable breeding stock and identified markets. They are cash income dependant rather than subsistence-oriented. The remaining 30 percent include flocks for household meat and milk consumption and occasionale producers/traders merchants who move in and out of production, depending on profitability.

Agricultural production in the predominantly rainfed areas of the country is a high risk undertaking due to erratic rainfall, frost damage and shortage of inputs.

Table 1 shows domestic production of the major crops over the past six years. Major points include the variable nature of rainfed-dependent cereals; the minor contribution of rainfed vegetable systems; the cyclical nature of olive production; and the steady growth of production from other fruit trees.

Table 1: Crop production (tonnes) - 1993 to 1998

 
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
Wheat
67 800
57 400
83 200
51 400
56 700
59 739
Barley
44 300
34 200
57 700
45 000
42 800
44 480
Vegetables 1/
           
-Irrigated
1 324 800
1 100 400
1 304 400
1 326 900
1 365 100
1 232 000
-Rainfed
38 420
18 790
45 500
29 040
22 890
29 700
Olives
49 300
96 500
64 900
128 900
82 000
177 000
Grapes
54 800
53 800
56 600
84 300
61 000
59 900
Other fruits
271 000
306 000
322 900
325 700
332 200
378 800

1/ Including watermelons.
-------

3. FOOD PRODUCTION, 1998/99

In January 1999, the Government officially declared a state of drought. Following one of the driest winters on record, dam water levels have reached an unprecedented low, access to regional surface irrigation sources has been cut and the Kingdom is exhibiting an overall lack of vegetative growth never experienced before. Remote sensing data confirm that the hardest hit areas are located in the most productive zones, namely the uplands and the Jordan Valley.

As a result, rainfed field crops have been drastically reduced, with vast areas of cultivated but non-productive land apparent in every Governorate. Rainfed fruit production has been severely reduced, vegetable production has been virtually eliminated and irrigated fruit and vegetable production based on all sources except deep bore-holes, has been reduced, reversing the growth noted over the past six years. By the same token, sheep and goat production has been severely reduced and production costs increased to the extent that most flock owners are making a loss.

The overall effect is that the Jordanian agricultural industry is under a severe threat. This threat will not manifest itself in widespread food shortages due to the already comparatively high dependency on imports. Nevertheless, about one-quarter of the population will be affected to various degrees of severity. This includes complete loss of income, indebtedness and, at worst, destitution as small farmers sell off their assets to pay debts and agriculturally dependent landless labourers find themselves jobless with no alternative job opportunities open to them.

In order to ameliorate the circumstances, the Government has reduced the price of barley and wheat bran, the former from around JD95 to around JD75 per tonne and the latter from JD85 to JD65 per tonne. The Government has also provided a free water service to flocks and for the rescheduling of loans from the Agricultural Credit Cooperative (ACC). With an eye to the future it is also directing water use in the Jordan Valley towards permanent crops rather than summer vegetables. Although valid and valuable, such actions do not go far enough to address the present difficulties. In order to re-establish a platform for next year's cereal, fruit and livestock industries, other emergency support measures are required which are outside the Government's present financial capability.

3.1 Weather situation in 1998/99 agricultural season

The root cause of the problems facing the agricultural industry is the disastrous drought during the past winter. This year, the rains were universally two months late, poorly distributed and finished early, as indicated in Chart 1.

Chart 1: Jordan - Weather factors, October 1998 to April 1999 compared to Average

Monthly Rainfall (selected Stations) in mm

Minimum Temperature (selected Stations) in ºC

Figure 1 shows 1998/99 data against long term average in two representative stations located in the north-west (high rainfall uplands) and the Jordan Valley. The patterns exhibited are similar and confirm the disappointing nature of the season.

Precipitation was, in most areas, reduced by up to 70 percent. The reduced rainfall was also accompanied by increases in minimum ambient temperatures which increased evapo-transpiration and exacerbated pest problems in irrigated-humid areas.

3.2 Cereal production

Each year around 130 000 hectares of wheat and barley are grown, according to rainfall conditions. On average, a further 3 000 hectares of irrigated cereals are sown by households in the Jordan valley, resettled Bedouin in schemes in the Central and Eastern Governorates and in agri-business projects in the south-east plateau.

The very late rains delayed or prevented some 30 percent of the sowing in the North-West-Central governorates and precluded germination in the remaining dry-sown areas throughout the Kingdom.

Where germination did occur, growth either ceased before heading or heading was premature, with poor seed set and grain fill. Only in Ajloun and isolated patches of Irbid, Zerqa, Amman and Kerak are some rainfed crops likely to be harvested.

Delayed sowing, however, means that surviving crops are subject to increased stress due to the "milky dew" growth stage now coinciding with the occurrence of the "Kharmaseen" (the 50 day hot dry wind from the deserts of Iraq and Saudi Arabia). In normal years this stage would have passed before the winds begin. Consequently any rainfed grain produced will be mostly poor quality, probably unsaleable and while usable for home consumption, will not be suitable for sowing next October.

Given the serious drought in all governorates as shown in Table 4, other factors affecting area and yield are of little consequence. However, it should be noted that there were no constraints on cultivation, rented tractors and fuel were readily available. Supplies of appropriate seeds were plentiful and accessible through the cooperative movement, from farmers' own carryover stocks and from private companies. As might be expected, weeds, pests and diseases were insignificant this year and it is noted that no herbicides, insecticides or fungicides were used on rainfed cereal crops. By contrast, agro-chemicals were used in regular amounts in the limited irrigated cereal sector, particularly in conjunction with hybrid seeds used in the agri-business projects.

Table 2 shows expected wheat and barley production by Governorate. The planted areas suggest a switch from wheat to barley as a coping strategy. Barley area has also increased through increased early season dry sowing as larger-scale farmers attempted to grasp the improved marketing opportunities opened up by a liberalization of the feed grain marketing in 1997/98.

For almost all rainfed cereal farmers the investment in cultivation and sowing at around JD30-40 per hectare has been entirely lost, except where the failed crops have been sold to herders for grazing at prices ranging from JD10 to JD30 per hectare.

The production shown in Table 2 is accounted for by some 1 000 hectares of irrigated agri-business farms in Mafraq and Aqaba, irrigated Bedouin re-settlement projects in Maan, and small household plots in Ajloun, the Jordan Valley (irrigated), Amman and Kerak.

Minor field crops of lentils and chickpeas, normally producing some 4 000-5 000 tonnes of grains have virtually been eliminated. Whatever minuscule harvest has been produced is being eaten green and will not be available for consumption in the 1999/2000 marketing year.

Consequently, the estimated production of wheat and barley in the Kingdom is 7 550 tonnes and 5 300 tonnes from 39 860 hectares and 71 000 hectares respectively; this is 12 percent of last year's crop, and sufficient to cover less than 1 percent of domestic cereal requirements, and the worst harvest in over 40 years.

Table 2: Jordan - Cereal and Other Grains Area, Yields and Production by Governorate, 1998 and 1999 (Area in hectares, Yield in tonnes per hectare, Production in tonnes)

Governorate
 
 
Wheat
  Barley
1998
1999
1998
1999
Area
Yield
Production
Area
Yield
Production
Area
Yield
Production
Area
Yield
Production
Amman
9 230
0.96
8 870
5 990
0.03
180
11 710
0.48
5 670
26 580
0.050
1 330
Madaba
2 150
0.94
2 030
2 200
0.05
100
1 250
1.42
1 780
2 600
0.027
70
Zarqa*
2 750
0.634
1 743
1 900
0.31
580
8 300
0.54
4 520
5 460
0.24
1 300
Irbid
9 984
1.607
16 044
3 390
0.150
510
4 360
1.615
7 040
2 470
0.150
370
Jerash
261
0.766
200
260
0.04
10
410
1
410
220
0.05
10
Ajloun*
850
1.106
940
520
0.58
300
160
1.06
170
90
0.56
50
Mafraq*
5 640
0.791
4 460
5 640
0.128
720
10 050
0.896
9 000
12 140
0.035
420
Balqa
2 580
1.000
2 580
1 170
0.085
100
900
0.800
720
530
0.075
40
Kerak
7 300
0.763
5 570
4 590
0.105
480
6 330
0.510
3 230
9 270
0.050
460
Tafila
1 250
0.600
750
2 030
0.005
10
1 300
0.600
780
2 670
0.004
10
Ma'an*
7 080
0.814
5 760
10 880
0.048
520
6 900
1.284
8 860
8 560
0.095
810
Aqaba**
600
6.500
3 900
500
6.500
3 250
100
8.500
850
0
0
0
J.Valley*
2 550
2.703
6 892
790
1.000
790
970
1.907
1 850
430
1.000
430
Total
52 225
1.14
59 739
39 860
0.19
7 550
52 740
0.85
44 880
71 020
0.07
5 300

 

Governorate
 
 
Lentils
  Chickpeas
1998
1999
1998
1999
Area
Yield
Production
Area
Yield
Production
Area
Yield
Production
Area
Yield
Production
Amman
844
0.65
550
340
0.08
27
506
0.7
370
650
0.11
70
Madaba
250
0.68
170
40
0.00
0
210
1
210
30
0.00
0
Zarqa
30
1.00
30
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Irbid
1 430
0.769
1 100
290
0.100
29
910
0.824
750
170
0.118
20
Jerash
80
0.50
40
40
0.00
0
40
0.50
20
10
0.00
0
Ajloun
90
0.44
40
40
0.25
10
180
0.44
80
75
0.27
20
Mafraq
50
0.600
30
0
0
0
30
0.667
20
0
0
0
Balqa
240
0.292
70
0
0
0
120
0.583
70
0
0
0
Kerak
439
0.713
313
320
0.047
15
87
0.805
70
70
0.143
10
Tafila
120
0.167
20
90
0.000
0
160
0.125
20
30
0.000
0
Ma'an
380
0.368
140
400
0.000
0
440
0.341
150
290
0
0
Aqaba
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
J.Valley
0
0.000
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Total
3 953
0.63
2 503
1 560
0.05
81
2 683
0.66
1 760
1 325
0.09
120
*:rainfed and irrigated.
**: all irrigated
Source: Latest area and production figures for 1998 provided by Governorate MOA offices in Jerash and Madaba.

The trend in cereal production from 1990 to 1999 is shown in Chart 2.

Undisplayed Graphic

3.3 Horticultural produce

The main vegetable crops, tomato, potato, eggplant, cucumber, squash, cauliflower, are grown in two seasons. The winter season, October to January, is entirely irrigated with the exception of rainfed onions grown in the uplands. The summer season, February to June, includes some 8-10 percent rainfed production also in the north-west uplands. Some 3 percent of the crops are grown under protection in plastic houses in Amman, Zerqa, Belqa and the Jordan Valley.

Availability of water, by irrigation or rainfall, determines area cultivated. Yields obtained will vary according to fertilizer use, pest and disease attacks and husbandry practices, which are universally of a high level.

Insufficient rains throughout the country precluded the sowing of summer rainfed vegetables with a concomitant loss of 4 000 hectares compared to the 1997/98 season. In this regard, total vegetable crops in Irbid, a mainly summer vegetable producing governorate, will be reduced by 84 percent; Amman and Madaba governorates are also severely affected. Onions were noted growing in several upland governorates, but their condition was below normal and yields were 60 percent of expected at around 12 tonnes per hectare. Due to lower planting, rainfed vegetable fertilizer use is minimal this year and pest and disease attacks negligible.

The northern portion of the Jordan Valley (from north Shouna to south Shouna) is irrigated with surface waters derived from the Yarmuk river and from the King Talal dam, conveyed respectively through the King Abdallah Canal and a pressurized pipe system. In this area, irrigation restrictions have been imposed since the end of February (foreseen to last up to the end of October 1999) by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI). On average only 70 percent of the normal water discharge is provided to the system. Accordingly there will be an estimated 30 percent decrease in irrigated summer vegetable area in this part of the Valley and a decreased yield for the winter crops standing at the time irrigation restrictions were imposed.

Irrigation regimes have not changed in the Safi Ghor area (southern part of the valley) where the system is fed by springs which have not been affected by the drought. In the uplands, the most affected summer and winter irrigated areas are those sourced by springs which have dried up this season or are reported to be weak. Madaba, Jerash, Ajloun, Balqa, Kerak, and Tafila are the Governorates most hit due to their high reliance on spring sourced irrigation water. The areas irrigated by artesian wells in the uplands are not affected by the drought and accordingly areas irrigated are likely not to change during this season. In this respect Mafraq (second most important vegetable producing area after the Jordan Valley) Ma'an and Aqaba are estimated to have production areas similar to 1998. Zarqa is reported to have increased the sown area in this producing season; the availability of irrigation water and market oriented farmer behaviour are considered the reasons behind this unique trend.

Increased outbreaks of insects in the irrigated sector due to high temperatures were noted in all MOA's directorates. Damage to vegetable production was observed during the Mission's field visits. White fly was noted as particularly severe on tomato and other summer vegetable irrigated crops. This insect affects tomato yields by transmitting the yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV). Leaf miners, aphids, thrips, moths and spider mites have all increased this season. Although no increase of fungal diseases was reported by most of the MOA's peripheral offices, the Mission observed attacks of powdery mildew, wilting (fusarium, verticillum and rhizoctonia) and soilborne diseases (early and late blight) in the Jordan Valley.

Vegetable production in Jordan is technologically advanced and high standards of husbandry were noted everywhere. All inputs, such as seed/seedlings, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and power sources, usually provided by the private sector, are noted as available this season. However, access to more pesticides than usual may be difficult for indebted small-scale farmers.

The main perennial crops cultivated in Jordan are olives (69 percent of the fruit tree area), grapes (11 percent) and a miscellany of other fruit trees (20 percent). Citrus trees account for some 24 percent of the other fruit trees area (93 percent in the Jordan Valley), banana for 10 percent, while the remainder are mainly apple, peach, plum, figs, apricot, pear, almond. It is assumed that cultivated and producing area will remain the same as in 1997/98. New plantings this season have been interrupted by the drought. Where irrigation is not available survival rates of such plantings this year and last year are likely to be low. The Mission observed many drying-up young plants in rainfed or poor supplementary irrigated plantations.

Olive yields fluctuate from one year to another depending mainly on the physiological alternate bearing characteristic of most cultivated varieties, including the popular Jordanian Nabali Beladi. In statistical terms the present season is to be considered the off-production season which in normal years should yield about 50 percent of the on-production year. This situation was largely reflected in the blooming level of the plantations.

As the national irrigated olive area is only 26 percent of the total olive area, olive yields will also be significantly affected by the drought. The Amman Governorate has a 43 percent share of the irrigated olive area so production will be least affected. Elsewhere, those governorates with mainly rainfed olives (Irbid, Madaba,) and those with poor supplementary irrigation (Zarqa, Jerash, Balqa) will have poor yields. In such areas, the effect of the 1998/99 drought is likely to have a carry-over impact on the yields of the following years. The observed dried-up green foliage and primary branches will require intensive pruning, reducing drastically the producing frame.

For yield estimation, allowance is made for different rainfall patterns within the governorates (e.g. Ajloun, high areas with acceptable rainfall) and other climate characteristics of the planted areas (high winter temperatures in Ma'an). Use of inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, tractor cultivation) is generally low particularly in the rainfed areas, though crop husbandry is of good standard both in the rainfed and irrigated areas. The drought has had an indirect effect on the increase of insect infestations in olive plantations: Psylla oleae attacks were noted as being widespread.

Grapes are cultivated mainly in rainfed conditions with only 22 percent of the grape area irrigated. Given the species' natural drought tolerance, yields will be less affected. Plants were observed at blooming stage with a reduced but healthy flowering (Irbid, Balqa, Jerash). The irrigated grapes areas were noted to be average only where the source of water was weak (Kerak). Crop husbandry is of good standard throughout. The use of inputs is low in rainfed areas and high in irrigated areas. No major outbreaks of diseases or insect attacks were noted by the Mission.

Regarding other perennials, the yields of the citrus trees and banana plantations in the Jordan Valley reflect a reduced performance due to the water restrictions imposed by the MWI. In the uplands, signs of low performance in flowering and fruit setting were noted in the rainfed and insufficiently irrigated areas (mainly Irbid, Jerash, Tafilah, Kerak). Temperatures above the long term averages occurred in December, January and February are likely to have caused reduced blooming particularly on apple trees due to insufficient satisfaction of plant chilling requirements.

Outbreaks of insect infestations have been reported by farmers, MOA officials and were observed on many plantations during Mission's site visits. Widespread attacks of Capnodis tenebrionis which is directly related to drought, have been noticed on apricot and peach trees in all governorates. Aphids, mites and Medfly infestations are likely to occur in the summer months affecting yields. Crop husbandry is generally of good standard, excellent in the modern large scale farms in Ma'an. Use of inputs is medium in rainfed areas and high in irrigated areas. No constraints on input availability were noted.

3.3.1 Expected Production

As shown in Table 3, the overall vegetable output for the 1998/99 season encompassing the winter and summer production is estimated to be some 972 000 tonnes, 23 percent less that the 1997/98 season. The summer rainfed production is considered to be virtually nil. The full-time irrigated upland areas have the least reduction, at 5-10 percent in Ma'an, Aqaba, Mafraq or even surplus production, as in Zarqa. The areas where traditionally vegetable production is rainfed or irrigated by springs have suffered reduction of 80 percent and above in Madaba, Irbid, Ajloun and Tafilah. Other Governorates have a reduction in production from 30 to 65 percent.

Olive production is estimated to be affected above the physiological alternate trend and a reduction of 73 percent on the 1997/98 season is foreseen. The Governorate of Irbid, normally producing 28 percent of the national olive harvest, is estimated to produce only 20 percent of its potential. Reduced production of 60-75 percent is foreseen in Balqa, Jerash, Madaba and Zarqa.

Overall grape production is estimated to be 39 600 tonnes, 34 percent less than the 1997/98 production. The most affected governorates are Madaba, Tafilah and Jerash.

Other fruit trees will produce and estimated 263 500 tonnes with a 30 percent decrease in comparison with the 1997/98 season, Jerash, Irbid and Madaba being the most affected governorates.

Table 3: Jordan - Vegetable and Fruit Trees Area, Yields and Production by Governorate, 1998 and 1999 (Area in hectares, Production in tonnes)

Governorate
 
Vegetables 1/
  Olives   Grapes   Fruit Trees
1998
1999
1998
1999
1998
1999
1998
1999
Area
Production
Area
Production
Area
Production
Area
Production
Area
Production
Area
Production
Area
Production
Area
Production
Amman
3 370
88 600
2 370
63 300
15 140
56 120
15 140
25 270
1 560
9 760
1 560
7 490
3 300
28 800
3 300
12 950
Madaba
820
7 220
90
1 340
1 320
810
1 320
240
620
2 420
620
1 200
230
1 330
230
400
Zarqa
1 390
39 010
1 590
45 120
8 890
14 140
8 890
5 500
680
2 050
680
1 760
880
1 790
880
1 790
Irbid
2 900
30 030
230
6 500
24 270
42 570
24 270
8 500
1 140
4 020
1 140
2 200
1 730
8 360
1 730
2 600
Jerash
270
3 930
100
1 350
7 430
19 750
7 430
5 900
1 500
7 530
1 500
3 600
1 300
6 160
1 300
2 200
Ajloun
360
3 410
110
720
5 290
13 970
5 290
7 940
3 840
18 790
3 840
11 440
1 350
6 050
1 350
5 450
Mafraq
9 210
265 300
9 210
242 700
4 730
7 110
4 730
3 270
480
1 830
480
1 400
2 100
20 400
2 100
13 300
Balqa
1 060
25 660
530
13 000
14 230
11 700
14 230
2 950
2 040
1 090
2 040
1 090
1 680
11 630
1 680
5 000
Kerak
1 230
29 100
700
12 100
1 870
3 100
1 870
1 640
1 350
4 660
1 350
3 000
460
1 730
460
720
Tafila
310
5 470
100
1 000
2 880
5 700
2 880
2 800
240
1 180
240
590
420
1 720
420
600
Ma'an
3 690
85 580
3 690
81 270
1 070
560
1 070
110
460
1 060
460
1 060
2 760
63 650
2 760
47 510
Aqaba
1 300
40 150
1 300
38 150
140
60
140
60
150
1 950
150
1 950
500
2 720
500
2 720
J.Valley
19 070
638 510
15 950
465 350
390
1 370
390
1 030
290
3 530
290
2 800
8 890
224 460
8 890
168 340
Total
44 980
1 261 970
35 970
971 900
87 650
176 960
87 650
65 210
14 350
59 870
14 350
39 580
25 600
378 800
25 600
263 580
Diff. 99/98:
     
77%
     
37%
     
66%
     
70%
1/ Including watermelon.

Notes:
Olive fruit producing trees area considered only
Fruit tree share in Jordan Valley: 65 percent citrus, 35 percent others.

3.4 Livestock production

The livestock sub-sector comprises poultry, dairy cow and sheep and goat production systems. Under prevailing conditions, the former two systems have not been affected by the drought. Imported maize, at an average of around 370 000 tonnes per annum, caters for the broiler and layer industries, Similarly, imported concentrates and straights supply the Holstein-Friesian based dairy industry, supplementing irrigated forage from deep bore-hole or waste water sources in Jordan and from Saudi Arabia's irrigated farms.

Although dependent on imported barley, the bran from imported wheat and imported straw, which has risen from 2 100 tonnes to 23 100 tonnes over the past seven years, the sheep and goat industry incorporates the use of arable/homegrown by-products and rangeland grazing at different and critical times of the year. This year, the failure of desert ranges and most mountain pastures to produce edible biomass during the spring has resulted in an increase in cereal use with concomitant negative effects on the gross margins and herder incomes. Farmers unable to raise credit to purchase increased feeds have lost out from lower levels of production, earlier selling of slaughter stock at lower weights and an associated drop in prices as market price per kg has dropped due to earlier than normal selling.

Government intervention to reintroduce subsidies and so lower cereal feed prices to JD75 per tonne for barley and JD65 per tonne for wheat bran in the last three months has been helpful, but shortfalls of cereals exist in some governorates. Some farmers receive quotas that do not meet requirements, limited commercial stocks available in the market are at higher prices, are increasingly unattractive as terms of trade, particularly for slaughter stock, continue to deteriorate. It is expected that lamb prices will rise later in the year but by that time only the large scale farmers used to feeding for 12 months of the year and livestock speculators, are likely to have stock to sell.

Milk prices have risen 20-30 percent compared with last year, but as production fell by a greater proportionate amount, gross returns from dairying have decreased.

This year's drought began in October/November, with the very late start to the season. Although most farmers normally feed cereals at that time, the augmentation of the diet with fresh grazing supports increased ewe/doe requirements during gestation. Parturition following mating in August-September reaches its peak in December-January, with the consequent peaks of lactation in February-March.

The persistence of milk production for two-three months post peak, following weaning, is the time of production of saleable milk. Current feeding practice reduces cereal use after parturition, expecting the ewes/does to gain additional rations from pasture or to "milk off their backs". The Awasi sheep can sustain large losses in weight/condition after weaning but will dry-up early if sufficient foodstuffs are not available. This year's reduced fodder availability has resulted in:

To counterbalance lowered production and increased feed costs, sheep and goat farmers are selling "finished" male lambs and culling ewes earlier, depressing the market price, although it is still substantially above imported sheep meat prices. The price differential in the sheep and goat meat market reflects local preference for home produced carcasses.

Sheep and goat milk production is estimated by the Mission to be down by some 30-40 percent and domestic high quality meat production by 45 percent. The latter may be augmented in part by increased culling of ewes.

In addition to mainstream livestock production, it is noted that some 1,100 rural families whose livelihood system includes bee-keeping, will also be severely hit by a general reduction in the fruit-tree flowering in rainfed and supplementary irrigation areas.

3.5 Emergency Support Measures to Agriculture Sector

The situation described above suggests that the following measures warrant serious consideration.

Details of input requirements, associated costs and other measures will be issued shortly in a Special Report by FAO's Special Relief Operations Service.

-------

4. THE FOOD SUPPLY SITUATION

Even in the best production years, domestic cereal production meets only 10 percent of the consumption requirements and the balance has to be imported, mostly on commercial terms. The importation of agricultural products is regulated by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) after the approval of the Ministry of Agriculture. In the past, the Ministry of Supply (now the Ministry of Industry and Trade) had overall responsibility for regulating food markets and for importing the main commodities such as wheat, rice, barley and sugar. Import controls were placed on those crops which were in surplus, or those promoted by the Government (potatoes, onions, garlic and apples). Recent reforms including liberalisation of trade, however, have reduced the Government's role to importation of wheat only, with trade in barley, rice and sugar being privatised.

Price controls are enforced by the Government through price edicts or are directly exercised through control over the quantities available in the market. Prices of wheat and barley and wheat bran are fixed, while prices of other food staples may fluctuate by 25 percent before government intervention. Prior to the drought, the market for the main component of animal rations, barley, had been liberalized. Since January 1999, however, the Government's reduction in the price of barley has re-established control of barley marketing.

4.1 Cereal Supply/Demand Balance in 1999/2000

The cereal balance shown in Table 4 is based on the following assumptions:

Table 4: Jordan - Cereal balance for 1999/2000 (`000 tonnes)

 
Wheat
Rice
Maize
Barley
Total
Domestic availability
158
12
40
95
305
Opening stocks
150
12
40
90
292
Production 98/99
8
0
0
5
13
Total utilization
900
111
410
820
2 241
Food consumption
740
99
-
-
839
Animal feed
-
-
370
720
1 090
Seed
10
-
-
10
20
Losses
-
-
-
-
-
Closing stocks
150
12
40
90
292
Import requirements
742
99
370
725
1 936
Anticipated commercial
540
99
370
540
1 549
Food aid pledges
100
-
-
-
100
Uncovered deficit
102
-
-
185
287

 

The cereal supply and demand balance shows a cereal import requirement of 1 936 000 tonnes, to cover human and animal consumption and seeds for the 1999/2000 marketing season. Commercial imports are anticipated at 1.55 million tonnes, leaving a deficit of 387 000 tonnes to be met by emergency and programme food aid, of which 100 000 tonnes have already been pledged.

-------

5. FOOD ASSISTANCE REQUIREMENTS

While no precise figure exists on the number of food insecure rural households in Jordan, information on the incidence of poverty in the country provides some insight. Households which depend on income from agriculture are disproportionately represented in the bottom income decile (Jordan Living Conditions Survey, JLCS, Fafo Institute for Applied Social Science). The same survey reveals the complex relationship between land ownership and poverty in Jordan, cautioning that landlessness, whether urban or rural, is not necessarily an indicator of poverty. Nonetheless, lack of land ownership is more frequent in the lower income strata.

In spite of the complexity of the interrelations among the relevant factors, it is clear that a high percentage of food insecure households live in rural areas. The current drought will have the strongest impact on small subsistence farmers and on the rural landless who are without non-agricultural sources of livelihood. Those already in a precarious situation are likely to have no means of meeting the food gap caused by loss of this year's crop or agricultural wages.

5.1 Targeting food assistance

The drought has affected agricultural production in virtually all regions of Jordan. Categories of persons who will require emergency food assistance are the following:

- Small-holders engaged in subsistence cultivation, who have invested in land preparation and have lost not only their crops but also their inputs. According to the 1997 Agricultural Census, 30 900 holders possess less than 1 hectare of land. Excluding those who have small irrigated plots, those who have additional non-agricultural employment or sources of livelihood, and double-counting of small-holders who are also herders, the Mission estimates that 12 000 small-holder households will need emergency food assistance.

- Small-scale herders with less than 30 breeding sheep and goats, which in a normal year would produce an income of JD700. This year such herders will be in deficit, unable to pay bills and have little likelihood of access to credit to buy feed requirements. According to the census, approximately 9 800 holdings have less than 30 sheep. Allowing for a number of holdings with more than one household, and for additional solely goat-holding households, and excluding small herders having non-agricultural sources of income, it is calculated that 10 000 herder households, located principally in the Southern and Eastern governorates, will be in critical need of food assistance.

It should be noted that herders owning more than thirty sheep and farmers cultivating more than 1 hectare are likely to have more substantial losses than the smaller farmers. Some may also have few other resources, and their families may also be food insecure. However, such persons are not considered candidates for emergency food aid but should be assisted by the government in the context of a broader programme of emergency support for the agricultural sector.

- Landless rural households. Of households surveyed in the 1997 Agricultural Census, 16 164 were landless. While exact figures are not available, it is known that for a significant percentage of these persons, the principal source of income is working on the agricultural lands of others, in particular during harvest time. Payments are received in cash or in-kind. Large numbers of landless rural households have lost this source of livelihood for the current year. Some who had cultivated land in exchange for a part of the harvest will now be obliged to make a cash payment to the landowner due to the absence of production.

Calculation of the number of landless rural households requiring emergency assistance is based upon estimation of the percentage of households having other sources of livelihood. Targeting of any assistance would need to be based upon further study of the distribution of such households

Taking into account such factors, the Mission estimates that a total of 8 000 landless rural households will require emergency food assistance.

5.2 Categories requiring emergency aid

Table 5 summarises the total number of persons who would require emergency food assistance. Although it is not possible to quantify the number, each category includes households which are particularly vulnerable: for example, those which are headed by women, or by elderly or disabled persons. In establishing selection criteria for targeting any assistance provided, highest priority should be given to these households. Specific mechanisms will also be needed to ensure they are identified, as such households are often the most isolated and without access to information.

Table 5: Persons requiring emergency food assistance in 1999/2000

Herder households
10 000
Small holders
12 000
Landless
8 000
Total households
30 000
Total persons
180 000

 

5.3 Estimated volume of food assistance required

In the present context, food assistance would not be intended to meet all nutritional requirements of the targeted households, but as a supplemental ration to meet the food gap created by this year's lost production. The rationale for this approach is as follows:

- markets are fully functioning. A wide variety of food is, and will continue to be available through commercial imports. Usually households are not totally without resources, and this food will remain to some extent accessible to most, although not in sufficient quantity given their limited purchasing capacity unless they seriously deplete their assets.

- normal coping strategies will continue to provide some relief; however, all such strategies are being strained to the limit in the current crisis. Mutual support within the extended family is a strong tradition in the country, taking the form of cash or in-kind transfers, and loans. However, this is constrained by the generalised nature of the present crisis, which means the entire extended family may be affected. Ethnic group solidarity is extremely strong, in particular in the South, and some support comes to marginal households through such channels.

- the Government of Jordan is planning, and has already implemented, some measures to address emergency needs. However, the critical financial situation of the Government means that such aid will be extremely limited. The National Assistance Fund, for example, plans to provide 35 000 vulnerable households with direct financial assistance as well as implementing limited loan programmes. It is likely that NAF beneficiaries will be principally urban residents, in particular families with handicapped, elderly or disabled members. Given the probable selection criteria, there would be little overlap with the beneficiaries targeted for emergency food assistance.

- global health statistics for Jordan do not reveal significant malnutrition problems. However, a more detailed analysis reveals that there are "vulnerable" geographic areas - in particular rural - in which a crisis such as the present one could push marginal groups over the threshold into malnutrition. For example, the Jordan Population and Family Health Survey (Department of Statistics, 1997) found that rural children across the Kingdom were more likely to be malnourished than urban children. While much of this difference is reflected in chronic malnutrition - the result of long-term nutritional inadequacy - another 2.2 percent of rural children (nearly 3 percent in the South) suffer from acute malnutrition (weight for height below 2SD). These children are especially vulnerable to seasonal or drought-related decreases in caloric intake.

Apart from the slightly higher incidence of malnutrition in the South, differences across other regions were not substantial, with rural vs. urban residence being the strongest predictor of under-five malnutrition. Undoubtedly, the majority of the malnourished children are from the most marginal rural families, hardest hit by the drought. It is therefore clear that assistance must be targeted to these households to prevent the nutritional status of their members, in particular children, from deteriorating. Overall, the present drought situation threatens to erode the progress recently achieved-at no small cost to Government-- in overall nutritional status of the Jordanian population.

In consultation with WFP nutritionists, the Mission has determined the amount of commodities necessary to meet the supplemental food needs of the affected populations. Based upon the assumptions that the next cereal harvest will be normal, that there will be some harvest of winter crops at the end of 1999, and that households have not yet exhausted their food stocks, it is judged that food assistance will be required for a total of 8 months, from September 1999 through April 2000. As noted above, a total of 30 000 rural households has been estimated to require assistance. On the basis of an average of six members per family, total emergency food needs are calculated at 14 400 tonnes of wheat and 1 300 tonnes of pulses.

5.4 Modalities for provision of emergency food aid

As explained above, short-term emergency food assistance will be required to meet the basic requirements of rural households hardest-hit and having inadequate alternative resources to sustain them through the current year's drought. To be effective this assistance must be rapidly delivered and accurately targeted. The Mission initiated discussions with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) regarding support in targeting emergency aid. MSD has an extensive network (over forty offices and sub-offices) covering all governorates and could therefore play an essential role in identifying target households. MSD also works with a wide range of NGOs, many of which carry out activities in very isolated rural areas. Information will also be obtained from such organisations to ensure the widest coverage of the most needy families across all governorates.

The above relief mechanism will ensure speedy delivery of food to those who urgently require it. It may also be possible in a limited number of cases to distribute a portion of the emergency food aid as "productive relief" in collaboration with NGOs. Several NGOs already engaged in small-scale water retention and harvesting activities have expressed an interest in using food to mobilise poor, drought-affected communities to undertake such works, while at the same time meeting their emergency food needs. Any such schemes would be strictly limited to simple works for which a real need has been identified, which require minimal technical and material inputs, and for which the concerned NGOs have full capacity.

5.5 Food Aid Logistics

Aqaba is a modern port with a maximum capacity to handle up to 30 million tonnes yearly. It consists of a total of 22 berths located at three facilities-the main port, the container port and the industrial port. At the main port, bulk cargo can be unloaded at the rate of 5 000-6 000 tonnes daily. Since Aqaba port is presently handling less than half its capacity, the additional imports of food commodities for emergency assistance will create no burden on capacity.

The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has a number of central and district warehouses servicing the WFP-assisted development projects in almost all governorates. Their total storage capacity is around 13 000 tonnes. Any additional storage that may be required for the emergency operation can be acquired from the Ministry of Supply and Trade (MOST), which has a total capacity of about 550 000 tonnes, including silos in Aqaba and Irbid, throughout Jordan.

-------

6. MEDIUM AND LONG-TERM REMEDIAL MEASURES FOR THE AGRICULTURE SECTOR

In the light of the experience whereby the vulnerability of various sub-sectors of the Kingdom's agriculture sector has been clearly revealed, the Mission feels that a full sector review is required. Specifically, the Mission feels that the following interventions should be considered:

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.

Abdur Rashid
Chief, GIEWS FAO
Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495

Khaled Adly
Regional Director, OMN/WFP, Cairo,Egypt
Fax: 0020-2-3500716

The Special Alerts/Reports can also be received automatically by E-mail as soon as these are published, subscribing to the GIEWS/Alerts report ListServ. To do so, please send an E-mail to the FAO-Mail-Server at the following address: mailserv@mailserv.fao.org, leaving the subject blank, with the following message:

subscribe GIEWSAlerts-L

To be deleted from the list, send the message:

unsubscribe GIEWSAlerts-L


back to the table of contents Back to menu