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The local market’s daily potato need stands at 400 tonnes, according to an official. (Photo: Osama Aqarbeh)

10,000 tonnes of ‘rotten potatoes’ banned entry into Jordanian market

The Jordanian Ministry of Agriculture said a shipment at Aqaba Port carrying 10,000 tonnes of allegedly worm-infested potatoes will not be allowed into the country.

The potatoes appeared to be infested with the potato cyst nematode, which is a soil worm that lives on the roots of some crops, according to the President of the Jordan Farmers Union, Mahmoud Oran, who added the shipment arrived to Jordan from Lebanon, but its original provenance is Syria. Oran expressed fears the pest will infect the country’s soil.

“The ministry reassured us and promised that the shipment will not be allowed into the country,” Oran said. He underlined the infested potatoes did not reach the local market, highlighting that any rotten potatoes occasionally found in the local market are due to “bad storage conditions, where humidity levels are higher than permitted.”

Oran said Jordan and Lebanon signed an agreement last month, under which Lebanon is allowed to export potatoes to Jordan between Oct. 15 and Nov. 15.

According to Oran, the ministry has allowed the import of potatoes from the West Bank because of the low quality of certain potato shipments coming from Lebanon, which actually originate from farms in Syria.

Ministry spokesperson Nimer Haddadin explained the owner of the shipment did not obtain an importing licence from officials and that the potatoes have not been tested at the ministry’s labs. He added that as long as the importer does not have an importing licence, the shipment will not be  allowed into the country.

“Additionally, any food shipment found carrying diseases, not matching the import standards or originating from a country that is not internationally approved to be disease-free, will not enter the Kingdom, stressed Haddadin.

The official added they rejected a potato shipment of 300 tonnes late last week for not adhering to the ministry’s standards.

He noted the ministry opened the door for importing potatoes from the West Bank to ensure sufficient supply of the Kingdom’s basic commodity.

“When production of potato starts in December, the ministry will stop its import, since the country becomes self-sufficient,” Haddadin said, noting the local market’s daily potato need  stands at 400 tonnes.

Source: The Jordan Times

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