Date of RUAF intervention: 2007-ongoing
Introduction | Urban Agriculture in Amman | Multistakeholder policy formulation and action planning| From Seed to Table | Products | Contact
"When we say the year 2009 will be the year of agriculture, it means that we are working seriously, transparently and with team spirit to upgrade the agricultural sector and assist workers in this field...I promise you that in 2009, farmers will see the difference" King Abdullah said at a meeting to launch the nationwide Agricultural Strategy. "The government, the private sector and the Jordanian Farmers Union are working hand-in-hand to realise the plan", he added.
INTRODUCTION: CITY CONTEXT
Jordan’s total population is 6 million and the city of Amman, the capital of the Kingdom is 2 million and is the main urban area. Amman is situated in the Northern part of the Kingdom, covering an area of 1700 of the city.
The annual average rainfall is 275 mm (but total rainfall varies between 200 and 500 mm depending on the location within Amman). The main sources of water for Amman rain and underground water; these are limited, and humidity is relatively low. Amman lies in a mountainous area, and has mostly fertile soils and suitable for agricultural production. Almost 60% of the land is not constructed and hence available for agriculture in the city of Amman.
The total agricultural area in the city of Amman is around 320,000 hectares on which 18.5 per cent of total crop production and 19 per cent of total livestock production of the Kingdom is produced.
URBAN AGRICULTURE IN AMMAN
There are two major categories of urban agriculture in Amman: 1) Peri-urban full-time farmers, who own large areas of land (between 0.5 and 10 hectares), which are used for vegetable production, olive trees and animal production mainly goats and sheep; 2) Small scale urban farmers who, often part-time, produce a variety of crops on their home gardens, mainly vegetables (of 200 to 1000 m2 each).
The main agricultural products are: fruit trees on a total area of about 84,000 Ha, like fig, grapes, pomegranate, stone fruits (cherries, apricots, plums, peaches and almonds) and pome fruits (apples and pears); vegetables on a total area of about 20,000 Ha, like tomatoes, cucumber, squash, okra and various leafy vegetables; staple crops on 35,000 Ha, mainly wheat, barley and chickpeas; and livestock production of about 400,000 heads of sheep, goat and cows.
Most products are sold near the farms: directly at the farm door or at community or farmers’ markets (during the production periods), or at the central markets. Among the most important agricultural export products of the city of Amman are cucumber, tomato, strawberry, red and yellow sweet pepper, and different varieties of lettuce.
Water for irrigation is only available in the centre of the city around the old flood path and around the artesian wells and springs, in Wadi Esseir and Al Mqabalain districts. In other parts of the city agriculture is rain fed. The main sources of water are underground water and rainfall. The larger peri-urban farmers have mainly rain fed agriculture.
The poverty rate in Amman reached 9.5% in 2006 and the unemployment rate 10.7% in 2007. It is expected that urban agriculture will positively affect the standard of living in Amman. People involved in urban agriculture will be able to fulfil their nutritional needs or generate a reasonable income from selling part of the produce from.
MULTISTAKEHOLDER POLICY FORMULATION AND ACTION PLANNING
RUAF is supporting the integration of urban agriculture in urban policies and planning in Amman since 2007. The Cities Farming for the Future Programme (RUAF-CFF) started participatory and multi-stakeholder policy formulation and action planning (MPAP) on urban agriculture in Amman, which will pave the way for coordinated activities of both public and private organisations focused at supporting poor urban farmers to develop safe and sustainable production, processing and marketing systems.
|Participatory and Multi-stakeholder Policy formulation and Action planning (MPAP) is a process of collaboration between the urban authorities with citizens, farmers, civil organizations, private sector companies and other governmental entities in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of policies and related action plans. This approach brings together major stakeholders in communication, dialogue, co-determination of issues, joint decision-making, planning, policy-making and implementation of projects. The main output of a MPAP is the joint development of a City Strategic Agenda on urban agriculture.|
• The major participating stakeholders in the Multi-stakeholder Forum are: the Ministries of Agriculture, Water and Irrigation, Education, Environment, Social Development; Municipal Institutions as: the Greater Amman Municipality, the Agricultural Credit Corporation, the Environmental Police in the ministry of environment, the University of Jordan-Amman, the Association of Agricultural Engineering, the Institute of Public Administration, non-governmental organizations, like the Association of Women Committees.
• Establishing the multi-stakeholder Forum (November 2008 onwards): A Multi-stakeholder Forum was established in November 2008 following the completion of the exploratory study. The MSF brings together 28 permanent participants (excluding the numerous observers who attended the launching meeting) and includes in addition to Greater Amman Municipality, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment, as well as the Royal Directorate for the Environment, the University of Jordan and a number of Civil Society organizations.
• A core team of 7 persons was formed to implement and coordinate the required studies for the MPAP. The Coordination of the Enabling Team is based at the Municipality of Greater Amman (GAM), where the Mayor’s advisor on Agriculture serves as the Coordinator of the Team and the engineer in the department as the secretary. The engineer was later promoted to Executive Director of the Environment department and one of his first decisions was to establish an urban agriculture bureau within GAM with dedicated human and financial resources: 4 engineers,(4 women),1 director engineer, 1 secretary,driver, office boy. Other members include two women representatives of farmer associations and two other women representing the National Institute of Training in Jordan and the Ministry of Urban Planning.
In addition three working groups were formed: the media, the technical and the legal work group. Finally, a policy narrative (situation analysis) was elaborated to serve as a basis for the development of the city strategic agenda for the mentioned work groups.
The most important challenges identified in an exploratory survey are: water scarcity; urban sprawl on agricultural land; the high increase in prices of land since 2005 (land rent varies between 100 dinars (130 USD) for rain fed land and 300-500 dinars (390-650 USD for irrigated land); land ownership fragmentation and prohibitive legislation (although the authorities often overlook livestock husbandry in areas of low population density or areas that have been recently added to Greater Amman, it is officially forbidden).
The city strategic agenda
The City Strategic Agenda on urban agriculture (CSA) is an operational tool designed in a participatory way by the Multi-stakeholders Forum on Urban Agriculture, and includes key issues, possible strategies and courses of action regarding each issue, the main actors involved and responsible for each action, and actual or potential funding. In the CSA the following strategy lines are mentioned.
Water: improve access to water by developing projects like reuse of grey water and recycled sewage water, rainwater harvesting, instalment of water reservoirs, efficient irrigation techniques, introduction of drought tolerant plants. These actions go along targeted research and extension programmes.
Human resources: support urban agriculture producers by providing adequate training and extension services, supporting them with appropriate inputs and strengthening their organisational skills as individuals or as groups in addition to seeking access to credit; the From Seed to Table (FStT) RUAF programme is responding to this line of strategy by providing capacity building and support to producers during the production phase in the field as well as during the post harvesting phase which requires organisational skills in marketing the produce; Urban Producers Farmer Schools provide farmers applied training in the field to insure proper implementation of specific required tasks.
Legislation: the analysis of laws and regulations relevant to urban agriculture: including the environment, funding and marketing, and (suggesting) the (re)formulation of laws and regulations.
Marketing: support farmers’ markets and fairs according to urban requirements to insure an added value to urban produce and optimal profit to urban producers; improve the post harvesting techniques like storing and packaging and abide to international standards to market higher better quality produce. Here also the project FStT falls in this specific line of strategy where emphasis is given on packaging and marketing distinguished higher value produce and where the producers themselves are being organised together to achieve this goal.
Access to credit: enhance and insure access to credit, particularly important in the realisation of technical and organisational improvements along the market chain, by giving the proper support and advice to urban producers as individuals and as organised group.
The CSA is agreed by the Multi Stakeholder Forum in Amman in February 2009.
The level of awareness of all partners regarding the concept of urban agriculture has increased, through a series of workshops and their participation in the MPAP. An MSF member who animates major TV and radio shows on agriculture has repeatedly featured urban agriculture in his shows and facilitated contacts with the press.
The Exploratory Study of Amman contains a state-of-the-art review of the municipal policies and regulations targeting urban agriculture, and Amman Multi Stakeholder Forum agreed that several of these policies could/would be reviewed in the next period. The main achievement in 2008 at the policy level was to build momentum towards the reinforcement of the application of the municipal directive which stipulates that 15% of the surface of any building permit should be dedicated to green spaces and/or home garden. For 2009, laws and regulations prohibiting urban agriculture activities, such as animal production, should be revised.
Although CFF for RUAF-MENA does not include pilot projects, the Municipality of Amman was able to implement through the MSF Forum a city-wide UA project (USD 75,000 for a start) to promote home gardening for food security. In addition, urban agriculture has been supported through a number of environmental oriented projects, which focused on water harvesting and conservation of (rain-fed) agricultural land. For instance, the establishment of the Al- Hussein Public Park, implemented by the greater Amman municipality where over 60 hectares are planted with different trees, or the Khaled Ibn Al Waleed Village in Marka, where the Municipality provided the women producer cooperative with a piece of land and supplied them with equipment in a home garden development project to produce medicinal and aromatic plants and make use of collecting rain water and solar energy.
In 2009, which was the “year for agriculture” in the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, the municipality of greater Amman, valued the efforts dedicated to urban agriculture through the MPAP by the local core team under the RUAF programme; the municipality took the initiative to establish a specialized Urban Agriculture bureau with dedicated human and financial resources (1 staff-person full time with funding close to USD 75,000 to execute activities defined under the City Strategic Agenda in 2009) which gives solid sustainability and institutionalization prospects for the Agenda.
The city strategic agenda was adopted by Greater Amman Municipality and other interested and influential stakeholders as part of the city strategy for developing agriculture in 2009. The MPAP is supported by the Mayor of Amman and all officials in the municipality, with the participation of interested and influential personnel from the ministries, governmental institutions as well as nongovernmental organizations and local communities.
The Forum is thus serving as a major interlocutor for major donors, among which the World Bank who showed interest in proposing urban agricultural projects for Amman in 2009. The World Bank mission is building on the city strategic agenda and cooperating with the major stakeholders identified in the forum and the core team members to develop a proposal to support urban agriculture in the city. In addition, contacts with the Spanish Cooperation were also initiated in the last quarter of 2009 and a proposal was submitted for complementary activities in 2010, mostly related to the principle of Socially Responsible Agriculture promoted under FStT.
FROM SEED TO TABLE
The From Seed to Table programme (RUAF-FSTT) started in 2009 and supports the building of capacity of local NGO’s and farmer organisations to formulate and implement “From Seed to Table” projects that stimulate the transition from subsistence to more market oriented forms of urban agriculture and strengthen the capacities of urban farmers groups and organisations to innovate their farming systems and market chains. FStT will also continue to support multi-stakeholder dialogue and planning at city level and enhance the access of urban producers to (innovative forms of) credit and financing of urban agriculture activities.
In peri-urban Amman (Jordan), RUAF works with an active grass root women association (Iraq Al-Ameer Women’s Cooperative Society) in Iraq el Amir-Wadi el Sir region, to improve the production of green onions and leafy vegetables. Innovation points include the establishment of a group plot, year-round production under low tunnels covered with plastic in winter and net in warm seasons, and packaging and selling the vegetables as “local and healthy produce”.
After a thorough market analysis, the association has developed a business plan to realize the identified organisational and technical changes, as well as to enhance the innovation and entrepreneurial capacity of the producers and their organisation. At the same time curricula are being developed that strongly knit together the above-mentioned components in periodic farmer meetings that combine planning with practical exchange and learning on the technical and organisational aspects of production, packaging and marketing of the selected product (so-called Urban Producer Field Schools).
|A local label for urban agriculture produce in Amman and San’a|
The RUAF Urban Farmer groups in Amman and San’a are applying a “Socially Responsible Production Protocol” for their urban produce. The protocol guarantees that the produce comes from a radius of 10 kms or less from the City Centre, that environmental ethics are respected during the production process, that it does not involve any abusive women or children labour and that 75% or more of the price paid by the consumers is distributed back to the farmers. Signature of these production protocols will take early 2010 during a large public event aiming at raising further the awareness around urban agriculture.
Parallel to these activities, a study has been launched to identify existing and possible new innovative forms of credit and financing of small-scale market-oriented urban agriculture. The studies will bring forward concrete recommendations of enhancing urban producers’ access to finance, particularly important in the realisation of technical and organisational improvements along the market chain.
|Amina (unmarried and living with her parents) is one of the beneficiaries participating in the FStT project in Amman (Jordan):|
“I think that out of the projects that were implemented in our city, FStT is the most practical one; why? Because, it is part of our daily life…we are farmers and know well what we are doing but we needed to work together to improve what we have; the other activities such as weaving, pottery are good but require equipment, learning and time; we have too many chores but since farming is one of them, we have to make more profit out of it; working as a group seems to facilitate a lot of things such as taking instructions on how to produce better and how to pack; organising ourselves in one group is helping us to satisfy the market demand and add value to our produce…our produce has a label now and we intend to work on other crops as well because we are helping each other and have contacts with buyers… and donors! We want to improve what we are already doing and I feel that I belong to a group trying to improve what we usually do”.
Office of Urban Agriculture
Head of office: Mr. Hesham el Omari; firstname.lastname@example.org
Greater Amman Municipality
Amman 18111 P.O.Box 132
Phone: +962 777449976
Environmental and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU)
Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences
American University of Beirut
P.O.Box:11-0236 Riad El Solh 110 12020 Beirut Lebanon
Phone: (+961 1) 350 000 Ext: 4503
Fax: (+961 1) 744 460
website: www.esdu-aub.org or www.urbanagriculture-mena.org
Regional coordinator: Mr. Ziad Moussa; email@example.com
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