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Ghunaim_Poster_IAMA_2008_sb[1]

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Ghunaim_Poster_IAMA_2008_sb[1]

  1. 1. Objective 1 Introducing New High Value Crops in Jordan: The Case of Sweet Onions Ayman Ghunaim§ , Jay M. Lillywhite§ , Rich Phillips§ , Ra’ed Altabini§§ Objective 3 Objective 4 Objective 5 Objective 2 Objectives of the overall study include: 1. Identifying sources of competition that can influence the successful production and marketing of sweet onions. These sources of competition include other vegetable crops that might provide greater net returns per unit of water for Jordanian growers and foreign imports of onions, both traditional storage onions and low pungency onions. 2 Identifying important agronomic issues related to growing high quality low pungency onions in Jordan. This analysis includes a comparison of known, successful growing regions in the United States with current and proposed Jordanian growing regions. 3 Examining cultural aspects of producing onions in the Middle East. Because low pungency onions are not a traditional crop grown in the region, it is important to identify production influencers, respected farmers, and leaders within the agricultural community that are willing to participate in initial low pungency onion production and marketing efforts. These farmers will serve as ambassadors to other farmers and supply chain participants. 4 Examining cultural aspects of marketing onions in the Middle East. This analysis includes identifying key consumer groups favorable to purchasing similar products. It will also include identifying supply chain participants willing to push sweet onions through existing marketing channels and possibly developing new marketing channels. 5 Identifying existing and potentially new marketing facilities that are needed to supply low pungency onions to new Middle Eastern consumers. This analysis includes supply chain development including the development of physical handling and storage facilities as well as the development of other finance and marketing tools, e.g., contracts. Objectives Jordan is a net importer of onions, producing only about 25% of the onions demanded in the country. The country imports onions mainly from Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Jordanian consumers eat a significant amount of onions. It is estimated that per capita consumption of onions is 7.3 kg per person per year. Demand comes from at-home consumption as well as use by restaurants. Onions are used in a variety of culturally based foods including Shawerma (a popular Jordanian sandwich), Mesakhan Chicken, and vegetable salads which are served with most dishes in Jordanian restaurants. Many Jordanian consumers are unfamiliar with low pungency onions and it remains to be seen if substituting higher priced, lower pungency onions for traditionally used pungent onions will be accepted. Recently, the NMSU and the Badia Research and Development Center (BRDC) teamed up with one of the country’s leading agricultural producers to investigate growing and marketing low pungency onions (referred to as “sweet” onions) in Jordan. Because of their high water content, these onions do not store well and typically sell for higher prices than the more common non- sweet fresh onions in the market. If these water efficient onions can be successfully produced and marketed, they will contribute to water savings when substituted for other crops and, at the same time, provide increased incomes for many of Jordan’s struggling farmers. Background Abstract Acknowledgements Shiek Khalid is an influential Bedouin leader. If he is successful in profitably growing and marketing sweet onions, as is anticipated, other growers will soon follow. The results of the initial fields trials will be publicized in regional newspapers and a weekly national television program devoted to agricultural issues. In addition, public field days will be used to familiarize other farmers with the specifics of growing the crop and its market potential. This research was supported and funded by the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station, USAID/IALC/NMSU/ Jordan Water Basin Survey. Authors thank Joe Corgan, Eng Mahamad Shahbaz, Eng Nawras Aljazee, Ahmad Al-Rawadgfah, Mahamad Aun, and Matthew Baca for their contribution and support in this research. Sweet, low-pungency onions face two primary sources of competition in Jordan – Competition from existing vegetable crops grown in the country (including pungent onions) and pungent onions imported from other countries, primarily Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Based on NMSU budgets and Jordan production data received to date, it appears that sweet onions can be profitably grown in Jordan. In addition, the onions require significantly less water than other crops currently being cultivated, an important factor as the country’s leadership realizes the impact of water shortages. It remains to be seen which diseases, if any, might affect the Growing conditions in Jordan are similar to those in New Mexico. Both regions have similar latitudes, soil types, and rainfall levels. crop in Jordan, but researchers believe these risks will be similar to those faced in New Mexico. Jordan has a rich cultural and food heritage. This culture is largely influenced by the Muslim religion as a vast majority of the country’s population is Muslim. Introducing a new product into a consumer group steeped in tradition may encounter some difficulties. But in the case of sweet onions, culture and tradition may help to encourage adoption. For example, Muslims are instructed not to enter the mosque after eating onions and other “offensive” foods because of their impacts upon a person’s breath. Initial consumer interviews suggest Jordanians’ perceive sweet onions as having a less offensive smell than traditional onions. A majority of the vegetable trade conducted in Jordan occurs through small open-air markets and one centralized vegetable market in Amman. Before sweet onions can be successfully marketed in the region more research and supply-chain development must occur. Infrastructure needs that must be addressed include: physical handling and storage facilities and efficient transportation. In addition, market participants will also have to address and develop marketing tools, e.g., contracts. Based upon U.S. experience it is suggested that sweet onions need to be branded and supply controlled in order to maintain a price premium over pungent onions. Sweet onions sold in Amman Vegetable Centre Market – First time locally grown, low pungency onions sold in centre market. Initial growing trials prove successful. BRDC & NMSU Researchers identify sweet onions as possible new water saving, value-added crop. Researchers identify the Bedouin grower who is a community leader and early adopter Working with onion researchers at NMSU, three New Mexico varieties of low pungency onion seeds are planted on Shiek Khalid’s farm. Market analysis work begins Conjoint analysis used to determine consumer preferences for sweet onions. Second growing season. New varieties / additional trials Onion growing expansion to additional farms Development of onion supply chain including organizing association to serve as single desk seller. Water savings on trial farms documented & projected to potential farms Develop and institute best management practices Conduct field days where regional farmers can observe field trial successes and utilize mass media to publicize results. Select brand name, devise advertising strategies, and devise seasonal fixed pricing strategies. § Dept. of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business ◆ New Mexico State University ◆ Las Cruces, NM 88003 ◆ ayman@nmsu.edu § § Jordan Badia Research and Development Centre

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