Under the high patronage of HRH Princess Basma Bint Ali, IUCN inaugurates the Smart DESERT Business Support Incubator

Under the high patronage of HRH Princess Basma Bint Ali, IUCN inaugurates the Smart DESERT Business Support Incubator
Thursday 03 February, 2022

Balqa, Jordan- 3/2/2021- Under the patronage of HRH Princess Basma Bint Ali, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in partnership with the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) inaugurated the Smart DESERT Business Support Incubator today. The event was attended by her Excellency the French Ambassador, Véronique VOULAND-ANEINI, n behalf of his Excellency the Minister of Agriculture, Eng. Mohammed Hyari, representatives from Agence Française de Développement (AFD) , the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the Ministry of Agriculture, 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 Business Support Incubator, located at NARC in Baqaa, will provide its beneficiaries including young entrepreneurs, farmers, food processing businesses, and home-based business owners with technical, business, and legal support to ensure their success and improve their year-round sustainable income generation.

Smart Desert 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.

Eng. Ali Hayajneh, Project Manager from IUCN said: “The Smart DESERT project aims at creating a paradigm shift in the agricultural sector in Jordan by improving the regularity of income for Jordanian and Syrian beneficiaries throughout the year in the project area (the North-Eastern Badia Highlands) through long-term agreements to purchase the offered products, the adoption of smart farming practices, and job creation. The project, which also aims to support the improvement of working conditions for agricultural workers, will focus on smart farming, efficient irrigation, proper crop selection, use of non-conventional water resources, and meeting market requirements. The Business Support Incubator will integrate multi-stakeholder collaboration processes, providing a platform for systematically engaging relevant actors such as farming cooperatives, and local authorities. 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).

Mrs. Véronique Vouland-Aneini, Ambassador of France commended the work of all project partners: “Jordan is a key partner in the region. As such, France, both bilaterally and as a Member state of the EU, is heavily engaged in supporting the country in recovering from the pandemic and adapting to climate and environmental challenges.”

Mr. Laurent DURIEZ, Director of AFD in Jordan said: “We welcome the inauguration of the incubator at NARC which will play a decisive role in the development and transfer of knowledge to farmers in Jordan.

Smart Desert relies on a sustainable economic model to scale up the project in the future, relying on a public and private partnership.

Dr. Nizar Haddad, the Director General of NARC, said: “Inauguration of this Business Support Incubator (BSI) came as a translation the directives of his Majesty King Abdullah II which he embodied in his last message when he said on 30 of January 2022 “we want a future of excellence and creativity, that is open to change and development, accepts new ideas and embraces diversity” .

Haddad valued all the partners supporting the Agricultural Innovation Incubator, led by the French government represented by the French Development Agency, for their support of the incubator, which will be an opportunity to develop pioneering and creative ideas for young people in the private sector.”

Eng. Khaled Hneifat from Ministry of Agriculture said: “As it has become clear that the agricultural sector constitutes for the national economy and a main driver of the employment process, especially for the youth category of Jordanian citizens. The royal interest in the agricultural sector was evident with His Majesty’s blessing for the agricultural plan that was launched recently. Where a special project was assigned to it in the plan, which makes this project a strategic project, and we appeal to the donor and the implementing partners for the project to choose the National Center for Agricultural Research to be the national government partner responsible for implementing this project, thanking the French government for its support for this project.”

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.