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Jordanian high-end vegetables see new world markets

Mar 01,2020 - Last updated at Mar 01,2020

Will Jordan's water scarcity and vast desert lands be a barrier for high-end agricultural production for the future? With confidence we can say that it will not. Rather we see opportunities.

This week, the Sahara Forest Project (SFP) will launch cooperation with Norwegian wholesaler BAMA to bring cherry tomatoes and sweet potatoes from Aqaba to Norway. International cruise ships from Costa and AIDA calling the port of Aqaba are committing to buy larger volumes and extend their agreements to the already existing supply. Utilising unprecedented and innovative technological concept, we strive to be an inspiration for smart solutions to face desertification and food scarcity across the region.

The SFP uses saltwater, sunlight and Jordanian arid land to produce top-notch vegetables. At the same time, we bring forward a solution to face desertification and food scarcity across the region, whilst creating new high-skilled jobs for young Jordanians.

Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway are scheduled to start their official state visit to Jordan on Monday. This is the first official state visit from Norway to the Middle Eastern region, and the visit marks 50 years of diplomatic relations.

Mutual visits between Norway and Jordan have led over the years to new innovation and business-oriented projects developing on the ground in Jordan.

Norway, Jordan, the European Union and a range of private partners watched this project attract high profile international attention. By using saltwater, cooled greenhouses, solar energy and different re-vegetation technologies, we have created unmatched business potential to combat global warming while pioneering the agricultural sector. 

Aqaba’s location makes it a perfect host for the SFP with its climate and proximity to other businesses, which helped us extend partnerships across large European enterprises.

We believe the agreements with Italian cruiseline Costa Crociere, German cruiseline AIDA and Norwegian wholesaler BAMA are helping Jordan to be positioned as a more attractive host for European-based projects seeking implementation in the MENA region.

The SFP is a result of the work of 60 different experts from 12 different countries. Their mission has been to create a unique desert concept that is good for the environment, good for social development and good for business.

When it comes to environmental entrepreneurship in dry areas, we see an enormous global potential if Jordan, Norway and private partners can make the actions on the ground in Aqaba a success. 

Last spring, Michael Thamm, the CEO of Costa Group met with us. An agreement was signed in August to supply eight different ships from Costa and AIDA calling on Aqaba to serve Jordanian high-end vegetables produced using desalinated saltwater in their restaurants.

This demonstrates an international demand for Jordanian products produced in a climate-smart way in the desert. On the day of the official state visit, the high-level Business Summit has already created a new partnership between Norway and Jordan. We are proud to welcome BAMA, Norway's largest private distributor of fruits and vegetables to Jordan. Together, we will soon start not only bringing from Aqaba to Norway, but also cooperating on how to bring technological know-how and on the ground experiences from Aqaba to other foreign agricultural projects.

We are very grateful to numerous people in Jordan and Norway for making these developments possible. Jordanian and Norwegian decision makers have been very supporting for years. The support from the European Union was crucial in the implementation.


Kjetil Stake is the managing director of Sahara Forest Project. Frederic Hauge is the founder of Sahara Forest Project. They contributed this article to The Jordan Times

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