Under the patronage of HRH Princess Basma Bint Ali, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) inaugurated the Smart DESERT Company today at the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC).
The event was attended by his Excellency the French Ambassador, Alexis Le Cour Grandmaison, representatives from Agence Française de Développement (AFD) in addition to representatives from the international and Arab organizations, civil society, farmers, the private sector and representatives from the local community.
The Smart DESERT Company is a non-profit company established with funds from AFD to economically empower farmers and home-based business owners by marketing their crops and products, linking them with local and global markets, and providing them with technical advice.
During the event, the Company signed partnership agreements with the Hashemite Fund for the Development of Jordan Badia, Al Sarhan Municipality, Dar Abu Abdullah, The Jordanian Palestinian Company for Marketing Agricultural Products, Mafraq Development Corporation and the National Agricultural Research Center to connect farmers and home-based business owners with local and global markets by purchasing, packaging, marketing, storing, and delivering their products to customers, which will improve their year-round sustainable income generation.
Eng. Ali Hayajneh, Project Manager from IUCN said: “One of the most important challenges facing the agricultural sector in Jordan is marketing the crops and products of small farmers and price fluctuations. The Smart DESERT project company will sign off-take agreements with farmers and project beneficiaries with medium and large market buyers in addition to guiding them on best practices to remotely controlling farm conditions.
Eng. Thabet Haswa, Director of Smart DESERT Company, said: “The agricultural production plan starts from studying the local and regional markets to support the farmers in proper planning which will lead to year-round income generation. The Company will increase agricultural diversity through untraditional crops and meeting consumer trends. Today, we signed several agreements that will initiate agricultural projects aimed at serving the local community, realizing the vision of His Majesty vision and the goals of the Smart DESERT Project.
Smart DESERT Project is a pilot-project financed under the Minka Peace and Resilience Fund, dedicated to reducing vulnerabilities and long-term effects of the Syrian refugee crisis in host countries. France, through the AFD, allocated a 10M€ grant to the Smart DESERT Project.
The Smart DESERT project aims at creating 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 through the diversification of production, the adoption of better farming practices and support for employment.
The project also aims to support the improvement of working conditions for agricultural workers and will focus on smart farming, efficient irrigation, proper crop selection, use of non-conventional water resources, and meeting market requirements.
The project is implemented by IUCN in partnership with Blumont, Horizons for Green Development, Greentech, and Inter-Islamic Network on Water Resources Development and Management (INWRDAM).
It is worth mentioning that the Smart DESERT Project will reach young entrepreneurs and trainees through direct and indirect capacity-building programs, and support 500 agricultural home based businesses and 200 farms in the North-Eastern Badia Highlands.