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Country Briefs

  Jordan

Reference Date: 26-June-2017

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Below-average precipitation limits production potential

  2. Stable cereal import requirements in 2017/18

  3. Rate of inflation increases supported by domestic demand

  4. Refugees from the Syrian Arab Republic continue to put strain on local resources

Below-average precipitation limits production potential

Harvesting of sorghum and spring wheat started in June. An early season drought from September to the end of November 2016 marked the beginning of the season. Although heavy precipitation in early December brought cumulative rainfall levels closer to last year’s in most areas, the 2017 cumulative precipitation up to the second decade of June 2017 remained below average and below last year.

Jordan’s domestic cereal production is negligible owing primarily to climatic and geographic conditions. At 68 000 tonnes, the 2017 cereal production is forecasted to be 15 percent below the previous year and the five-year average. To increase local cereal production, the Government purchases domestic crop at preferential rates, currently at JOD 500 (equivalent to USD 354) per tonne of wheat or barley.

Economically more significant production of vegetables and fruit trees is irrigated.

Stable cereal import requirements

Even in years with above‑average domestic production, over 97 percent of the domestic cereal food and feed requirements are satisfied through imports. Cereal import requirements in the 2017/18 marketing year (July/June) are forecast to remain stable at 2.5 million tonnes, about the same level as in 2016/17 and the five-year average.

Wheat imports in 2017/18 are forecast at about 900 000 tonnes, about the same as last year and close to the last five‑year average. Most of the wheat imports to Jordan originate from Romania, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. While increasing population and continuing presence of refugees increase the requirements, ample available stocks put breaks on the pace of imports. The Government continues to maintain the strategic stocks aiming at covering about ten months of domestic consumption.

In the same period, imports of barley (mostly used for feed) are forecast at 780 000 tonnes, about 7 percent less the average, as farmers are gradually reducing their herd sizes responding to slowing demand for “awasi” sheep in Gulf countries. Subsidized barley is distributed to herders according to the actual number of tagged sheep and goats. An average level of about half a million tonnes of imported maize is also forecast for animal feed, mostly poultry and cattle.

Inflation increasing

The general inflation rate in May 2017 increased by 3.7 percent yearly, following a period of negative inflation rates between 2015 and the first half of 2016, driven by strengthening domestic demand. Food price inflation recorded negative 0.3 percent compared to negative 5.9 percent in October 2016.

Despite the ongoing budget deficit, wheat bread remains fully subsidized (at USD 0.22/kg) and all consumers are entitled to it. About 90 percent of all bread sold in the country is subsidized. The Government sells wheat flour at about USD 50/tonne to the bakeries, significantly below the international levels. It compensates for increases in the costs of other inputs by lowering the flour price.

Refugees from Syrian Arab Republic put strain on resources

According to UNHCR, as of mid-June 2017, over 660 000 registered Syrian refugees were within Jordan’s borders, mostly concentrated in Mafraq, Amman and Irbid governorates. Most of the refugees arrived between January and April 2013, when the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic started. The WFP is improving targeting of its programmes and assisting the most vulnerable refugees through food vouchers in most of the country and through the provision of in‑kind food distributions in the Zaatari refugee camp and some of the transit centres hosting refugees.