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Jordan Valley farmers say agriculture sector needs guest workers
AMMAN — Jordan Valley farmers on Wednesday staged a sit-in in front of the Labour Ministry to protest its recent decision of stopping the recruitment of new guest workers in the Kingdom.
 
The farmers warned that if the ministry does not retract the decision, cultivation in the Jordan Valley, the country’s food basket, will further diminish this season.
 
Jordan Valley Farmers Union President Adnan Khaddam said the ministry took the decision without consulting with the farmers.
 
“This decision to stop bringing guest labourers will be the main reason for a disorder in the country’s food security,” Khaddam told The Jordan Times.
 
The ministry announced on June 28 that it has stopped the recruitment of new guest workers with the aim of regulating the labour market and pinpointing the exact number of guest workers in Jordan.
 
A comprehensive survey on the labour market is currently under way to produce precise figures of national and guest workers as well as their distribution in various sectors, according to the ministry.
 
Preliminary estimates indicate that there are 750,000 foreign workers in the Kingdom and only 300,000 of them have work permits.
 
In recent remarks, Minister of Labour Ali Ghezawi said that some 100,000 guest workers are employed in the agricultural sector, only 40 per cent of whom have permits. Of those with permits to work in agriculture, 70 per cent have illegally moved to work in other sectors.
 
The Agriculture Ministry’s figures indicate that some 95 per cent of agricultural workers are guest labourers.
 
“We cannot give up guest workers in agriculture in the Jordan Valley because there is no other alternative…, now, there are no workers to prepare the lands for the agricultural season,” Khaddam noted.
 
He underscored that the shortage in the number of guest workers will add to the existing losses of the agricultural sector, in light of the ongoing closure of the country’s borders with Syria and Iraq.

jordan times - 28, Jul 2016