(MENAFN- Jordan Times)
AMMAN — Tomato farmers are losing tens of thousands of dinars annually over unprofitable tomato seasons that they claim have been harmed by low prices in the local market and difficulty exporting to neighbouring countries.
Radi Ajarmeh, is a tomato farmer in the Tafileh Governorate, almost 180 kilometres south of Amman. Radi's estimated his losses this tomato to be about JD60,000 so far.
A kilo of fresh tomatoes is currently sold at the central vegetable market for as low as JD0.07.
“Farmers are broke, and are going to court due to accumulated debt from the mounting losses over the years,” Ajarmeh told The Jordan Times.
Ajarmeh said that he invested over JD180,000 this tomato season, a third of which has been lost so far.
A box of tomatoes sells for between JD0.70 and JD 1, but the cost of the harvest and transportation alone exceeds JD0.65, said Ajarmeh. He described the situation farmers are facing as a“complete disaster”.
Ajarmeh said that farmers are“frustrated and angry” because locally produced tomatoes are abundant and of very high quality. Yet, since the supply exceeds the demand, the product is priced lower than the input costs.
“We used to export all of our produce to Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC),” Ajarmeh added.
Ajarmeh attributed the losses to low local demand, increasing operational expenses, as well as low export demand from the GCC.
“The GCC are currently importing tomatoes from Iran,” said Ajarmeh.
Meanwhile, Sa'di Abu Hammad, president of Jordanian Farmers Association, stated that there are challenges in exporting tomatoes to the GCC markets due to the long wait time for produce approvals, in addition to inspection costs, which are paid by farmers. A high export tax compounds this issue, he said.
“We used to call tomatoes red gold; they used to be very profitable for farmers to produce,” Abu Hammad added.
Abu Hammad said that farmers are bearing the burden of increased taxes and high operational expenses, and are not making enough money to cover basic costs, let alone turn a profit.
“I urge farmers to decrease space on their farms designated for tomatoes, and plant other crops instead,” added Abu Hammad.
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