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King inaugurates agricultural project by Del Monte in Mafraq

Project aims to develop Jordanian agricultural product, increase exports

By JT - Jun 13,2019 - Last updated at Jun 13,2019

His Majesty King Abdullah tours the facility of a leading agricultural project implemented by international food company Del Monte in Mafraq during the inauguration ceremony on Wednesday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

MAFRAQ — His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday inaugurated a leading agricultural project implemented by international food company Del Monte in partnership with the Hashemite Fund for the Development of Jordan Badia (HFDJB), at a total investment of JD12 million, as part of the Sabha Development Project in Mafraq.

The project, which provides around 200 jobs for local residents and utilises the latest agricultural technologies within the highest international standards, aims to develop the Jordanian agricultural product and increase agricultural exports to international markets, a Royal Court statement said.

King Abdullah toured the facility, which includes a nursery and greenhouses, and was briefed on the technology used to control the climate through an automated system.

His Majesty was also briefed by Del Monte Jordan Regional Director Jad Asfour on the produce and crops produced by the project, as well as the methods of research and development employed, according to the statement.

The project extends over an area of 100 dunums from the HFDJB in Sabha, producing mainly tomatoes in addition to lettuce, pepper and herbs.

Del Monte, one of the world’s leading producers of fruits and vegetables, started working on the Mafraq project in 2018.

According to Asfour, the project consists of 10 greenhouses with an area of 10 dunums each, in addition to an advanced nursery that supplies the project with seedlings and a vegetable canning facility, as well as other facilities.

The project currently produces 3,000 tonnes of high-quality tomatoes for export annually, with expansion plans that include the development of other agricultural products and the adoption of Jordan as a hub to export agricultural technology, according to the statement.

Sharifa Zein Bint Nasser, the president of the fund’s board of trustees, highlighted the role of the HFDJB in attracting investment projects to the Badia regions to help reduce poverty and unemployment levels, while developing the agricultural expertise of local farmers.

The Sabha Development Project, implemented by the HFDJB, includes several agricultural projects such as pomegranate and olive cultivation, as well as fodder cultivation.

The current project is set to expand by 200 dunums over two phases, according to Asfour, who added that the purpose of the expansion is to increase the project’s product variety and employ a greater number of the Badia’s residents, as well as expanding agricultural activity in the Jordan Valley, the Disi Valley and the Kingdom’s southern region. 

Agricultural investment in Jordan is “strategic and distinguished regionally”, due to the Kingdom’s varied of terrain, which allows for year-round farming, Asfour highlighted.

He underscored that Jordan’s agricultural land offer the potential to target international markets, where production ceases during periods of extreme cold or heat, such as Europe and the Arab Gulf. 

Abdullah Aoun, a farmer, said that growers’ cooperation with Del Monte has helped them promote and sell their products at a stable and relatively high price compared with the central market’s value, which can be unstable.

Aoun added that working with the company has motivated farmers to use advanced agricultural techniques to guarantee high-quality produce suitable for export.

Sharifa Zein reiterated the significance of the Sabha Development Project in supporting Badia through investments in its people, especially for “women who have set an example of a woman’s ability to work, produce and grow”. 

She added that the HFDJB is working at “high capacity” through the Small Grant and Microcredit Programme. 

She called on relevant institutions to help fund the HFDJB to increase its number of beneficiaries in the Northern, Central and Southern Badia. 

The HFDJB has managed to plant 10,000 olive trees and 30,000 pomegranate trees in Northern Badia, providing a plethora of jobs in the process, she highlighted. 

Sharifa Zein underscored that the fund will expand production projects, pointing to an upcoming announcement of a new project in Southern Badia. 

“The project has provided me with a suitable income with which I can help support my family,” Amira, a mother of seven, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Royal Hashemite Court Chief Yousef Issawi, Adviser to His Majesty for Communication and Coordination Bisher Al Khasawneh and Agriculture Minister Ibrahim Shahahdeh accompanied His Majesty on the visit.

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