Ministry of Agriculture Secretary General Radi Tarawneh said no shipments of local vegetables have yet been sent to the Saudi markets as traders prefer to sell their products in the local market at "appropriate prices".
He noted that the Saudi market is now open for local produce after Jordan met all technical requirements set by authorities in the Gulf kingdom.
Tarawneh noted that the ministry informed traders, producers and dealers that the Saudi markets are awaiting their vegetables providing they comply with the agreed-upon terms, but "so far not single shipment has been sent to Saudi Arabia".
"Traders are apparently not interested in exporting vegetables to Saudi Arabia, arguing the local market is currently witnessing high demand and their produce is selling at competitive prices," he told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.
But Anwar Haddad, an agricultural expert, disagreed.
"It is not exactly the high local demand for agricultural produce that has made traders disinclined to export vegetables to Saudi markets, but the conditions and requirements set by the Saudi authorities," he said.
Haddad explained that one major issue that make traders "unwilling" to export vegetables, mainly tomatoes, to Saudi Arabia is the condition related to the weight of the tomato cartons.
"So far, traders are unable to comply with the technical requirements," he told The Jordan Times yesterday.
Last month, the Saudi authorities barred the entry of two trucks laden with Jordanian tomatoes as they exceeded the specified weight requirements of five kilogrammes.
The 40 tonnes of tomatoes were sent as an experimental shipment before resuming exports to the Gulf kingdom after an almost 20-year Saudi-imposed ban on Jordanian vegetable imports.
"Traders are afraid that any future shipments they send to the Saudi market might be returned and become difficult to sell on the local market," Haddad said, adding that "traders have the right to avoid risks".
He said the matter could be easily resolved as it is technical and not related to quality considerations, expressing hope that the government would find a solution through ongoing talks with the Saudi side.
In April this year, authorities in both countries agreed on a certain mechanism and conditions to resume exports.
Among the conditions set by the Saudi side was that Jordanian vegetables entering their country should undergo mandatory testing to ensure they do not contain excessive levels of pesticides and are free of Salmonella bacteria.
In 1990, the last year local agricultural produce was allowed to enter the Saudi market, Jordan exported 213,228 tonnes of fruits and vegetables, according to ministry figures.