Amman, Jordan (May 9) U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Alice Wells showcased locally-grown hydroponic and organic vegetables during a May 9 reception with Jordanian producers and government officials in honor of the visit to Jordan by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack. The event, which featured seasonal vegetables from local farms, welcomed a number of prominent chefs from hotels and culinary institutes in Amman who are keen to source a reliable supply of these high quality products.
The U.S. government, through USAID’s Hydroponic Green Farming Initiative (HGFI), has played a key role in promoting this innovative agricultural method, which enables Jordanian farmers to grow higher-value crops while using significantly less water. It is estimated that hydroponic techniques use 50 – 75 percent less water than crops grown in the traditional field. Under this program, crops are grown in a closed, recirculating nutrient solution instead of with drip irrigation into soil, so fewer fertilizers and pesticides are used as well. Hydroponic techniques also help eliminate soil-borne diseases and reduce the rate of vegetable spoilage.
“The future of hydroponic farming techniques is bright in Jordan,” Ambassador Wells said. “Hydroponic farming techniques are well-suited toward maximizing Jordan’s scarce supply of water. From my visits to hydroponic farms in the Jordan Valley, I’ve seen that the potential to grow more produce through hydroponic techniques is significant, given the minimal additional investment required to implement them.”
Building reliable markets for hydroponically-grown produce is equally important. The USAID program is designed to build greater awareness of the advantages of hydroponically-grown produce, and the chefs in attendance at the reception were able to experience first-hand the quality of produce from hydroponic fields. Developing strong domestic markets for produce will assist farmers in balancing the cyclical nature of produce grown for export.
Um Ali, who heads a women’s cooperative in the north of the country said, “Our thyme production from hydroponic farming is far better than traditional soil farming. It uses much less water, which is scarce in Jordan. Our production is clean from soil diseases.”
The Hydroponic Green Farming Initiative is funded by USAID’s Office of Water Resources and Environment and implemented by ECO Consult. The project demonstrates hydroponic systems that are easy to adapt to Jordanian conditions that both use less water compared to conventional systems of production and bring higher yields and profit.