GIEWS Country Brief Jordan 10-May-2019

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

Favourable rains supported yield increases

Stable cereal import requirements in 2018/19

Food inflation returns to negative levels as international prices ease

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

Favourable rains supported yield increases

Harvesting of sorghum and spring wheat will start in June. Across most of the country, a well above-average autumn rainfall, which resulted in localized flash floods, provided ample soil moisture for sorghum planted in October 2018. Spring wheat planted in March benefited from above-average rains following the completion of planting operations. As of the second decade of April 2019, the main cereal growing areas received over 80 percent more precipitation than the long-term average. The area planted with wheat remained unchanged, at 20 000 hectares, but timely rainfall is likely to support yield increases.

The country’s cereal production is negligible owing primarily to climatic and geographic conditions. Cereal production in 2019 is forecast at about 100 000 tonnes, over 25 percent above last year’s weather-stricken harvest and about 10 percent above the five-year average. Economically, a 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 2018/19 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at an average level of 2.7 million tonnes.

Wheat imports in 2018/19 are forecast at a close to average level of 1 million tonnes. Most of the wheat imports originate from Romania, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. 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, unchanged from last year but about 7 percent less the average. Subsidized barley is distributed to herders according to the actual number of tagged sheep and goats. Cattle and poultry farms are not eligible for subsidized barley. An average level of about half 1 million tonnes of imported maize is also forecast to be used as feed for mostly poultry and cattle.

Food inflation returns to negative levels

Responding to higher international food and fuel prices as well as changes in the bread subsidy programme, the general inflation in July 2018 reached almost 6 percent, but retreated back to zero in January 2019 and to a negative 1 percent in February 2019 (latest information available) as international prices eased. To reduce public spending and food waste, the Government replaced its broad bread subsidy programme with a targeted assistance system in February 2018 setting new price caps for bread without directly subsidizing the bakeries.

Refugees from Syrian Arab Republic put strain on resources

According to UNHCR, as of early April 2019, over 660 000 registered Syrian refugees were within Jordan’s borders, mostly concentrated in Mafraq, Amman and Irbid governorates. The figure has not changed since late 2016. Most of the refugees arrived between January and April 2013, when the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic started. The WFP is improving the 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.