We are part of a consortium led by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) taking a holistic approach to supporting vulnerable Jordanians and Syrian refugees in Jordan’s agricultural sector by improving farm practices, working conditions, and year-round income opportunities. Smart Desert is implemented in the north-eastern Badia, Mafraq, Zarqa, Jerash, and Ar Ramtha districts of Irbid Governorate.
Enhancing Climate-smart Agriculture
Water is a scarce resource in Jordan, and more than 50 percent of the country’s use supports agriculture. To reduce water loss and increase environmental sustainability, 15,000 farmers will receive on-farm training on topics such as smart irrigation techniques; crop selection based on soil and season; water management systems; and the use of solar power. Demonstration sites set up by the farmers will help to raise local awareness of the new skills, encouraging the adoption of similar approaches and technologies, while expanding the project’s reach in the region.
A smartphone application will also be developed to provide farmers with an early-warning system for natural disasters, helping them protect their crops against floods, locusts, and other environmental risks.
Creating Sustainable Livelihoods
Blumont is leading efforts to provide technical support to 255 agricultural home-based businesses to support off-season income generation for Syrian farm workers and smallholder Jordanian farmers, especially women and youth. These trainings will help business owners strengthen their marketing, management, and digital skills to increase their incomes and grow their businesses. Entrepreneurs will also expand their reach through the formalization of their businesses, partnerships with new clients, and access to e-commerce platforms.
Improving Working Conditions
Smart Desert is focused on creating better work environments for Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians through legal support, training, and labor rights awareness campaigns, while strengthening the ability of farming cooperatives to act as more effective advocates for improved work conditions. Through legal support, Blumont will facilitate the entry of farmers and home-based businesses into the formal economy. Flexible work permits for Syrians and employment contracts for Jordanians will reduce worker vulnerabilities by providing basic social protection and reducing the risk of exploitative practices.
Establishing Business Support
A business support incubator – the first of its kind in the agricultural sector – has been established through Smart Desert partners to facilitate access to technical, legal, and business support services. The incubator is designed to support knowledge-sharing and foster innovation amongst farmers and young people interested in agriculture. To ensure the long-term sustainability of these efforts, the incubator has also launched a business off-taker within the first year of Smart Desert implementation through support from AFD. The new Smart Desert Company will work in tandem with the incubator to train farmers and home-based business owners on improved packaging and marketing methods to grow their businesses, increase revenue, and enhance market linkages. Blumont will lead efforts to link farmers and home-based business owners to the Smart Desert Company to benefit from its business development and marketing support.