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Country Briefs

  Jordan

Reference Date: 16-December-2016

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Relatively favourable conditions for crop production prevail

  2. Slight decrease in cereal import requirements in 2016/17 owing to higher stocks

  3. Rate of inflation stabilized

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

Relatively favourable weather conditions prevail

Planting of sorghum and spring wheat for harvesting from June 2017 concluded in November 2015.

Rainfall amounts from September to the end of November were unusually low. However, heavy precipitation in early December have brought cumulative rainfall levels closer to last year’s in most areas, including the main agricultural provinces of Irbid, Ajloun and Jarash in the northern part of the country. Additional abundant precipitation later in the season can reverse the impact of early season drought.

Jordan’s domestic cereal production is negligible owing primarily to climatic and geographic conditions. At 80 000 tonnes, the 2016 cereal production is the same as in the previous year and 5 percent below the five-year average.

Slight decrease in cereal import requirements owing to higher stocks

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 2016/17 marketing year (July/June) are forecast to decrease slightly to 2.6 million tonnes, about the same level as in 2014/15 and some 7 percent down on average.

Wheat imports are estimated at about 900 000 tonnes, some 20 percent lower than last year and close to the last five‑year average. In the 2015/16 marketing year (July/June), almost 65 percent of the wheat imports originated from Romania and about one-third from the Russian Federation. While increasing population and continuing presence of refugees increase the requirements, ample stocks put breaks on the pace of imports. The Government continues to maintain strategic stocks planned at ten months of consumption. As of September 2016, the country’s wheat stocks exceeded 1 million tonnes, sufficient to meet the country’s demands for about 14 months. In June 2016, Jordan raised the maximum level of sunn pest allowed in wheat shipments from 0.6 to 0.8 percent.

In the same period, imports of barley (for feed) are expected to go down by about 7 percent, compared to the average, to 780 000 tonnes to match the increasing demand. 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 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 October 2016 decreased by 0.5 percent yearly, continuing the trend established in 2014. Food price inflation recorded negative 5.9 percent compared to negative 5.2 percent in September 2016.

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 Government sells wheat flour at about USD 50/tonne to the bakeries, significantly below international levels. It compensates for increases in the costs of other inputs by lowering the flour price. It is believed that the bread subsidy system is wasteful partly due to subsidized flour being used in non‑subsidized products.

Refugees from Syrian Arab Republic put strain on resources

According to UNHCR, as of early December 2016, over 655 000 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 between January and April 2013. 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.