Reference Date: 06-April-2016
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Favourable conditions for crop production prevail so far
Cereal import requirements remain high
Rate of inflation stabilized
Refugees from Syrian Arab Republic continue to put strain on resources
Favourable weather conditions prevail so far
Planting of sorghum and spring wheat for harvesting from June 2016 concluded in November 2015 and March 2016, respectively. Spring barley is usually planted between mid‑May and mid‑July.
Cumulative precipitation by the third decade of March 2016 was uneven across the provinces although the main agricultural provinces of Irbid, Ajloun and Jarash in the northern part of the country received average to above‑average precipitation, creating favourable conditions for crop development. Warmer‑than‑usual temperatures across the region accelerated crop development.
Heavy rains and snowfall brought by a cold front in February increased the country’s dams’ capacity by 10 million cubic meters of water (mcm). The Ministry of Water and Irrigation plans to maintain strategic storage levels to accommodate growing needs for human and agricultural purposes. The plans call for building of six new dams, including the Kufranjah dam which is nearing completion.
Jordan’s domestic cereal production is negligible owing primarily to climatic and geographic conditions. At 80 000 tonnes, the 2015 cereal production is up on the 2014 harvest affected by poor weather. Government purchasing prices in 2015 were JOD 450 (approximately USD 630) per tonne of seed wheat and JOD 370 (approximately USD 520) per tonne of bread wheat.
Cereal import requirements to remain high
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 2015/16 (July/June) are forecast to increase slightly to 2.65 million tonnes, about the same as in 2014/15 and some 7 percent up on average.
Wheat imports are estimated at about 950 000 tonnes, about 20 percent higher than the last five‑year average. The increase is due to increasing population and continuing presence of refugees. The Government continues to maintain strategic stocks planned at ten months of consumption. As of February 2016, the country’s wheat stocks stood at 895 000 tonnes with 640 000 tonnes in the country and 250 000 tonnes contracted or on the sea.
In the same period, imports of barley (for feed) are expected to go up by about 10 percent, compared to the average, to 780 000 tonnes to match the increasing demand. Subsidized barley is distributed to herders according to 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. Rice imports are forecast to remain stable, at about 380 000 tonnes.
Losses from suspended trade between Jordan, Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic are estimated at over USD 700 million since the borders between Jordan and Iraq and Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic were shut. The Government is preparing a 2016‑2025 agricultural policy with emphasis on the Gulf countries as export destination, mostly for fruits and vegetables.
Inflation declined and stabilized
In January 2015, the Department of Statistics changed the base year for inflation calculations from 2006 to 2010. Using the new baseline, the general inflation rate in January decreased by 1.1 percent yearly, continuing the trend established in 2014.
Cereal inflation remains low. Despite the 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 Jordan is subsidized. The Ministry of Industry and Trade estimates that the actual market price of bread is about USD 0.50‑0.58/kg. The Government sells wheat flour at about USD 97/tonne to the bakeries. It is believed that the bread subsidy system is wasteful partly due to subsidized flour being used in non‑subsidized products.
Food inflation is driven by prices of seasonal products, such as vegetables, which are set freely.
Refugees from Syrian Arab Republic put strain on resources
According to the UN Refugee Agency, as of mid‑March 2016, over 636 000 registered Syrian refugees were within Jordan’s borders, mostly concentrated in Mafraq, Amman and Irbid governorates. Most of the refugees arrived early in the conflict. 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.