Ask the Right People the Right Questions!

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Wed 26 April / Apr 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Websites and social media platforms have been circulating a document by the Emirates’ Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, to suspend the importation of some Jordanian produce, effective the middle of May, 2017.

Apparently, there is an excessively unhealthy amount of pesticide residues in the examined sample of vegetables.

The official response by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Khaled Huneifat confirmed the news and claimed it was a only precautionary measure by the UAE, including five Arab countries; Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Oman, and Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Minister Huneifat stated, communications are underway to solve the problem, and that a delegation is under formation to clear this up with the Emiratis.

On a variety of levels, there are several implications to the Emirati decision, and a number of percussions, some quite terrific for the agricultural sector.

The east and northern borders are already shut, due to the situation in Iraq and Syria. The sector’s only breathing space is the Arab Gulf, Jordan’s main exportation partner, at least for the time being.

Recently, produce exports to Gulf countries reached 900 tonnes a day.

Typically, this is a vital and crucial economic activity.

Equally unsettling, the decision entails not only the partial suspension of produce importation, but the tightening of sampling and spec tests for Jordanian vegetables.

Interestingly, the new screening checks will include a variety of vegetables, tomatoes too, Jordan’s prime produce export to the Gulf and one the Kingdom’s main crops.

Undoubtedly, the Arab Emirates and Gulf have all the right to stand precautionary measures of the sort and carry out any needed test or screening for produce quality. Especially since we are talking about a vital part of the basic daily dietary.

However, the fear is that this Emirati decision leads the rest of the Gulf countries to similar decisions, precautionary or not.

Then, we would be talking about a far more fundamental problem, which will most certainly ruin the entirety of the agricultural sector.

If this happens, domestic produce will have nowhere to go!

It is also true what the Minister said, that the decision included five countries, but this is not reassuring, in any way.

In fact it is more or less irrelevant, because suspended produce imports from Lebanon, Egypt, and Oman, are all exclusive one kind of produce each. In Jordan, it is 7. Seven vegetables and produce which are part of the regular, daily dietary!

That said, we are the ones who must question the Minister of Agriculture and the government, even the prime minister, not only on whether or not the rumours on the Emirati decision are true, but is all the information entailed in it is?

Notwithstanding the indispensable economic aspect of it, what about our health; Jordanians?!

Does that not matter?!

The Emirati decision listed Jordanian beans, pepper, lettuce, squash, flower, eggplant and cabbage. Those are some of the most widely and regularly consumed vegetables in Jordan!

What has the government to say on this?!

Is the Emirati “precautionary” measure an exaggerate one? Are they not the same indices and measurements in Jordan?!

Either way, what are the measurements used to inspect produce? Is it the advisement of the Ministry of Health? The Administration of Food and Drugs? Health Experts? What do they think of the Emirati decision? How dangerous are those pesticide residues in our vegetables?!

Needless to say, we have enough rumours on so many issues as is.

In order to avoid the wildfire which usually comes with the ambiguity on such a vitally crucial issue, the public needs to be informed, and they need to be given facts, proof, and evidence, by the ministries, experts, and respective monitory bodies.

The Jordanians’ health is equally important, that is one.

Two, it would do us well to know this fact in order to address it’s percussions on the vital sector and its exports.

Last but not least, this could help aid the reconstruction of government credibility and the public’s trust in the official Jordanian address, which is already more unpopular today than ever!

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.