The World Bank approved a learning and innovation loan (LIL) to assist the Government of Jordan in improving fresh produce exports to the Gulf countries and Europe to increase the income of relatively small farmers.
The five million dollar pilot initiative will assist the Government in supporting the private sector by encouraging large-scale farmers to contract with small- and medium-scale farmers to achieve critical mass as required by target markets.
Small- and medium-scale farmers in Jordan face a number of challenges in exporting fresh produce and diversifying their export markets. They lack timely marketing information and technical know-how to improve productivity and enhance quality of their produce.
They also lack up-to-date knowledge of changing quality standards in fresh produce markets, and are often constrained by the quick turnaround time required—from produce testing and export certification laboratories—to satisfy the quality requirements of those markets. In addition, European buyers prefer to deal with few and large suppliers who produce in bulk volumes.
The LIL is designed to address these constraints and make a start towards modernizing Jordanian agriculture, which is characterized by high water consumption but relatively low contribution to its gross domestic product.
Under the proposed pilot initiative, a specialized department will be established in Jordan’s Premier Export Development Agency, JEDCO, focusing solely on promoting fresh produce exports and market research. JEDCO would be the business incubator for this export promotion department until a ready farmers/exporters association gets established to take over the function.
The LIL will promote successful and sustainable partnerships between large farmers and exporters with smaller farmers It will also strengthen technology support services that would assist farmers to adopt and adapt new high value crop varieties into their farming systems. In addition, the LIL will upgrade the government’s certification facilities to meet the stringent inspection requirements of European markets and prevent inspection delays at ports of entry.
Moreover, the cold chain would be strengthened at Amman airport with thermal blankets to protect the quality of fresh produce during transport to destination markets. A Project Coordination Unit would be established in the Ministry of Agriculture to oversee project implementation and monitor progress and achievements.
The loan falls in line with the World Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy for Jordan, which seeks to accelerate economic growth through private investments and development of agriculture, and improving water resources management. It also supports the Government of Jordan’s exports promotion strategy, one of the key focus areas in the country’s 1999-2003 five-year development plan.
The five-million dollar loan will be issued by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), an arm of the World Bank Group which provides loans and technical assistance to middle-income countries. The Government of Jordan will provide an additional $1.1 million in co-financing for the project, with some cost sharing by the private sector. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )