All through 2020, King Abdullah of Jordan Highlighted the connection between meals safety and social stability because the nation faces meals insecurity ensuing from the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier than the pandemic, Jordan had began retailer strategic meals reserves – primarily wheat and barley, little produced regionally as a result of lack of water and land sources – in an try to take care of social stability. Nonetheless, storing meals as a method of guaranteeing stability comes at a excessive price as Amman copes. funds stress and financial pressures—Affect on Jordanian households.
COVID-19 has introduced extra stress to an already battered Jordanian financial system. Since 2016, the Jordanian financial system has not achieved an annual progress charge above 2%. Sluggish progress has led to excessive unemployment, particularly amongst girls and younger individuals – complete unemployment reached round 25% in 2020 – and the discount in family earnings. The shocks of the worldwide pandemic have disrupted tourism, one of many most important pillars of the Jordanian financial system, and have just about halted financial progress. Because of this, the Jordanian financial system contracted by round 5 p.c.
Tensions over Jordanian meals safety have solely elevated as COVID-19 uncovered structural challenges to the nation’s meals system. Fifty-three p.c of Jordanians, or about 3 million individuals, are susceptible to meals insecurity. As well as, 3 p.c of Jordanians, or about 220,000 individuals, dwell in meals insecure households. Folks in rural governorates are essentially the most meals insecure. Al-Tafilah Governorate recorded the very best proportion of meals insecure households, round 20 p.c.
To adapt, as much as 42 p.c of Jordanian households have resorted to disaster methods that undermine the longer term capacity of households to deal with shocks and productiveness. The financial affect of the COVID-19 pandemic has compelled households to scale back their meals bills. Fifty-five p.c of households used food-related coping methods, together with lowering the variety of meals or the standard of the eating regimen to make ends meet. About 28 p.c of households reported that their kids went to mattress hungry throughout the lockdown interval.
Meals insecurity extends to the Jordanian neighborhood of 1.1 million Syrian refugees. Knowledge from August 2020 reveals that solely 12 p.c of refugee households are meals safe. Equally, 21 p.c, or greater than 130,000 individuals, of refugee households are labeled as meals insecure. These households have excessive meals consumption gaps and sometimes depend on probably dangerous coping methods that compromise future family productiveness. One other 67 p.c of refugee households are susceptible, most of whom depend upon non permanent and casual jobs which were severely restricted by COVID-19 lockdowns.
Lengthy earlier than the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jordan had began develop its nationwide strategic meals reserves to mitigate the dangers of meals insecurity. The Jordanian authorities imported round 1.2 million tonnes of wheat and 600,000 tonnes of barley – about 18 months of reserves. In 2020, Jordan produced a meager 25,000 tonnes of wheat as a result of lack of sources wanted for large-scale cultivation. Whole native manufacturing was solely sufficient for every week of home consumption – as such, Jordan usually imports round 70 p.c of its primary meals wants.
Following the disaster of 2008 and 2011, the federal government started to construct up a inventory to alleviate shortages or worth fluctuations that might turn into a driver of social unrest. Meals costs began to extend coinciding with the second wave of COVID-19 instances. Jordanian imports of important commodities similar to corn, wheat and rice are extremely concentrated in a few of the international locations worst affected by COVID-19. Within the early days of the pandemic, Russia and Romania, which account for the majority of Jordan’s wheat imports, imposed export restrictions. Though they had been lifted after the primary wave, they’re now being re-imposed. Likewise, Egypt and India – Jordan’s most important sources of pulses – impose export restrictions.
Whereas strategic meals reserves have diminished Jordan’s publicity to worldwide meals worth volatility, thus defending the nation from a repeat of a few of the social and political circumstances of 2011, sustaining meals shares places the nationwide funds on the road. strained at a time when Jordan is experiencing an unprecedented financial disaster. Since mid-2018, when Jordan began increasing its strategic reserve, the state has spent a complete of $ 1.1 billion on wheat and barley imports, round 1% of annual GDP, 3.5% of annual public income and three% of annual public expenditure. The availability chain prices to take care of these imports, from transportation to storage, price about $ 40 million per 12 months, or about three months of wheat consumption.1 In the meantime, COVID-19 continues to inflict elevated financial and financial prices. The federal government’s intervention house will turn into extra restricted within the quick time period. Fiscal stress is unlikely to be alleviated by financial progress or elevated authorities revenues within the quick time period, as the non-public sector struggled to withstand lower in money circulate and reduce in demand. The Jordanian authorities should determine the worth it’s prepared to pay for its strategic meals reserves in return for the bodily, monetary and psychological safety it offers. The present coverage of increasing strategic meals reserves favors bodily and psychological safety over financial effectivity. Because of this, Jordan is paying above market costs and excessive provide chain prices to fulfill its wants.
On the International Meals Safety Index, Jordan is nearly on par with Tunisia and Algeria, and fares higher than Syria and Yemen, each of which have endured a cycle of battle and meals insecurity since 2011. Since 2018, Jordan is witnessing a rising social instability characterised by massive demonstrations in opposition to the rise in taxation and the rise in costs reflecting the rising stress on Jordanian households. These protests echo the protests of 2011-12, which noticed the sacking of three authorities cupboards in 18 months.
To keep away from the pitfalls of earlier governments, Jordan tried to pursue a coverage of sustaining strategic meals reserves. Nonetheless, Jordan ought to handle the price of meals safety, balancing elevated reserve storage capability with extra environment friendly meals import provide chains so as to cut back import prices and canopy costs for meals provides. primary merchandise. As well as, Jordan must handle different key elements – its commerce steadiness, nationwide debt, and financial and political constraints – whether it is to take care of its strategic meals reserve coverage.
Hadi Fathallah is a director of NAMEA Group. He’s additionally a marketing consultant to the World Financial institution, the Meals and Agriculture Group (FAO) Funding Middle and the Worldwide Fund for Agricultural Growth (IFAD). Comply with it @Hadi_FAO.
Timothy Robertson is a Senior Agricultural Specialist on the World Financial institution.
The opinions expressed on this article don’t essentially characterize these of the establishments for which they work or to which they’re affiliated.
1 Primarily based on the authors’ calculations and knowledge obtainable from the Division of Commerce, Trade, and Provide (MIT), United States Division of Agriculture (USDA), Reuters and the Worldwide Council cereals, and interviews with trade specialists in Jordan.