NARC launches agricultural innovation, entrepreneurship incubator

An undated photo of agricultural land in Jordan. (Photo: Flickr)
AMMAN - The National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) has launched an incubator for agricultural innovation and entrepreneurship designed to provide technical, legal and commercial support to young entrepreneurs, farmers, food manufacturers, and home businesses.اضافة اعلان

The incubator is part of the French-funded Smart Development of Eco-Friendly Solutions and Economic Regional Agricultural Techniques (Smart Desert) project sponsored by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The incubator was opened Thursday by Her Royal Highness Princess Basma bint Ali.

The Smart Desert Project is funded under the French Development Agency’s (AFD) Peace and Resilience Fund, or "Minka,", and is aimed at reducing the vulnerabilities and long-term impacts of the Syrian refugee crisis in host countries.

"Jordan is a key partner in the region. As such, France, bilaterally and as a member state of the European Union, is actively involved in supporting the country in recovering from the pandemic and adapting to climatic and environmental challenges," said French Ambassador in Amman Veronique Vouland-Aneini.

Welcoming its inauguration at NARC, Laurent Duriez, the director of AFD Amman office, said that the incubator will play a critical role in developing and transferring know-how to farmers in Jordan. "The Smart Desert project pursues a sustainable economic model that will expand the project's scope in the future, relying on a public-private partnership," he added.

In turn, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Muhammad Hiyari, described the incubator as a strategic project and said that it is consistent with the recently launched national agricultural plan. He thanked the project’s donors and partners for choosing NARC to be the national government partner responsible for implementing this project.

The project manager, Ali Hayajneh, indicated that the Smart Desert project aims to make a paradigm shift in the agricultural sector by empowering vulnerable Jordanians and Syrian refugees in the agricultural sector in the northern and eastern highlands by increasing their income, creating new job opportunities and improving their working conditions.

He explained that the project focuses on smart agriculture, efficient irrigation, proper crop selection, and the use of non-conventional water resources.

For his part, NARC Director General Nizar Haddad said that the incubator is a translation of the directives of His Majesty the King, who recently said: "We want a future open to change and development and accommodates new ideas and diversity."

Haddad thanked all partners, led by the French government and represented by the AFD, for their support of the incubator, which he said will be an opportunity to develop innovative and pioneering ideas for young people in the private sector.

AFD has provided a €10 million grant for the Smart Desert project which is hoped to serve 500 agricultural home-based projects and 200 farms in the northern and eastern Jordanian highlands. The project is being implemented under the leadership of IUCN as part of a coalition that brings together Bluemont, Horizons for Green Environment, GreenTech, and Inter-Islamic Network on Water Resources Development and Management (INWRDAM), in partnership with NARC.

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