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French-funded Smart DESERT project launched

By Rana Husseini - Sep 27,2021 - Last updated at Sep 27,2021

AMMAN — The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on Monday launched the Smart DESERT project’s activities that aim to improve the agricultural sector in Jordan.

The launching of the project was announced during a panel discussion in Amman.

The project is funded by the French Development Agency (AFD), according to a statement from the organisers.

The event was attended by representatives from the AFD and the ministries of water and irrigation and agriculture, in addition to representatives from the international and Arab organisations, civil society, farmers, the private sector and representatives from the local community.

The Smart DESERT project aims to create “a paradigm shift” in the agricultural sector in Jordan by improving the regularity of the Jordanian and Syrian beneficiaries' income throughout the year in the North-East Badia Highlands, the statement said.

The goals will be applied through the diversification of production, the adoption of better farming practices and support for employment, the statement added.

The project also aims to improve the working conditions of agricultural workers, while focusing on smart farming, efficient irrigation, proper crop selection, the use of non-conventional water resources and meeting market requirements, the statement said.

“The Smart DESERT project is in line with His Majesty King Abdullah’s vision towards the agriculture sector by providing farmers access to modern agricultural technology and expanding opportunities for Jordanians to achieve food security,” said IUCN Smart DESERT Project Manager Ali Hayajneh. 

The project will create “a paradigm shift in the agricultural sector by moving it from supply-driven agriculture based on conventional thought, to a demand-driven, technologically advanced, dynamic, private sector-led agricultural sector”, Hayajneh explained.

The project will establish a company that will stop farming from being reactionary, which often leads to shortages and supply surpluses, Hayajneh added.

Country Director for the AFD in Jordan Laurent Duriez said during the event that the ambition of the Minka (The Peace and Resilience Fund) initiative is to tackle the territorial, social and economic challenges generated by the Syrian crisis, in the Middle East and particularly in Jordan.

“The context requires us to take the time to understand the deep roots of the crises, but also to act much faster to provide immediate responses to the people who rely on us,” Duriez said.

Supported by France, through a 10-million-euro grant funded by the AFD, “this is the core of the Smart DESERT project implemented by our Jordanian and international partner”, Duriez added.

The project is expected to reach 15,000 young entrepreneurs and trainees through direct and indirect capacity-building programmes, and support 500 agricultural home-based business, 200 farms in the North-East Badia Highlands, the statement said.

The project will be implemented by the IUCN in partnership with Blumont, Horizons for Green Development, GreenTech, and Inter-Islamic Network on Water Resources Development and Management (INWRDAM), according to the statement.

The Smart DESERT Project will support farmers, home-based business owners, food processing facilities by assessing the needs of local and regional markets, the statement said.

It will also work on building the capacity of the beneficiaries to meet these demands by using modern agricultural technologies such as proper crop selection, efficient irrigation, proper use of non-conventional water sources, and cost reduction using solar and energy efficiency measures.

Moreover, the project will provide home-based businesses' with training sessions covering a number of areas, including management, marketing, finance, and business skills to facilitate their entry into the formal economy and link them to new markets, the statement said.


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