Jordan to finance agriculture projects in ‘poverty pockets’

Published May 27th, 2015 - 02:16 GMT

A multi-component scheme that targets small-scale farmers in several parts of the Kingdom was launched on Tuesday.

In a country where the agriculture sector contributes to only 2.9 percent of the gross domestic product, the project aims to support the delivery of more efficient agricultural services and programmes, according to organisers.

Dubbed “Rural Economic Growth and Employment,” the project is implemented by the Jordan Enterprise Development Corporation (JEDCO) with the support of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

“The project will contribute to reducing unemployment among young people in selected areas that are classified as poverty pockets,” Hana Uraidi, JEDCO acting CEO, said.

The Jerash, Ajloun, Madaba, Balqa and Mafraq governorates are the target of the six-year project, which will also include extending loans of between JD2,000 ($2,823) to JD50,000 ($70,582), to farmers through the Development and Employment Fund.

Under the scheme, IFAD will extend around $11 million in a soft loan, including $500,000 as a grant, while the government will cover expenses related to taxes, estimated to reach $1.4 million.

In addition, the project entails establishing a special unit at JEDCO to develop the agricultural ventures implemented under the programme in cooperation with the National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension.

The unit will also help the Jordan Exporters and Producers Association for Fruits and Vegetables promote the produce of the farmers involved in the project and partner with the Jordan Institution for Standards and Metrology to issue certificates such as the ISO to the produce.

“Basically, the unit will be responsible for all the technical issues that support the beneficiaries’ schemes,” Uraidi highlighted during a ceremony to announce the launch of the project.

The unit will also hire a nonprofit entity to work as the project’s field arm, with organisers expecting the number of societies established under the initiative to reach 350 across the targeted areas.

IFAD representative Mohammad Abdul Qader said the project is deemed a “quantum leap” in the relationship between Jordan and the fund.

JEDCO will organise campaigns to acquaint residents of the targeted areas with the details of the project, according to Uraidi.

Since 1981, IFAD has committed around $71.4 million in loans to Jordan aimed at supporting agricultural development and reducing rural poverty, with the most recent one focusing on introducing improved management practices for water resources, according to the fund.

By Laila Azzeh

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