FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

FAO, ICARDA visit Water Efficiency, Productivity and Sustainability regional project sites in Jordan

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) organized a field visit on the 23rd of June 2022 to the implementation sites of the activities supported by the Water Efficiency, Productivity and Sustainability regional project (WEPS-NENA) in the northern Jordan Valley with the participation of representatives from FAO Jordan, the Swedish international Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), ICARDA, NGO Watershed and Development Initiative (WADI) for Sustainable Ecosystems Development and the local community. The main objectives of the visit was to follow up on the achievements/progress of the activities and to conduct an on-ground evaluation, as well as get feedback from the engaged local community.

The visit started at a local Community Based Organization (CBO) building, called the "Sustainable Agriculture Association" in the northern Jordan Valley. The CBO was selected based on several criteria to help implement the activities. A meeting conducted at the CBO, where representatives from the local community including seven women and five men, local municipality, non-central governance,  and the association’s head participated in the meeting. During the meeting, the participants discussed the trainings conducted on dairy production and on establishing a small-scale agro-silvo-pastoral test site.

The training on dairy production was appreciated by the local community as it helped to improve their skills on dairy production in more hygienic conditions with better quality by using simple and affordable tools/methods. It also helped to reduce both time and effort compared with the traditional way.

The local community also appreciated the new skills and experiences gained from the hands on training for estalishing a small-scale agro-silvo-pastoral test site. The in-situ micro water harvesting and planting of rangeland species have a promising gain in the shorter and longer term. Local community members expressed that the technology implemented will increase capturing water in the pits and maintain a more ample grazing opportunity for herders. The prolonged grazing period and improved biomass at the treated site are projected to increase local herders' income by improving animal health and production. The local community suggested expanding this activity to cover more and larger areas and testing water harvesting techniques on other valuable crops like cactus. The upcoming training was also designed based on the community's needs, drying vegetables for consumption during off-seasons. The training will allow the local community to open new markets and productions.

After the meeting, the team visited the implemented test site. The ICARDA and WADI teams explained the benefits of the technolog, which provides livestock fodder and several ecosystem services such as: reducing soil erosion and runoff rates, increasing soil carbon storage and sequestration, and improving biodiversity and biomass. The survival rate of the planted seedlings is relatively high, around 80 to 85 percent.

Testing local community perception on the restoration technology implemented and potentially improving ecosystem services are still activities in this project.

The team then visited the implementation site of NENA Regional ET measurement project at the Dair Alla research station of the National Agricultural Research Center. The calibration procedure for the ET Cordova station was explained where the weighing lysimeter is used to calibrate the ET station. Five seasons of calibration were successfully completed. The crops considered for calibration were wheat, corn, onion, and vetch.

Finally, a meeting at the ICARDA office in Jordan was conducted with the participation of the project focal point from NARC, SIDA representative, NENA Regional ET and RWH project team from FAO and ICARDA. During this meeting, feedback on the implemented activities was provided and discussed. The SIDA representative and the ICARDA's regional project manager appreciated conjunction with all partners involved in these activities and listening for the feedback from the local community. The dairy production expert provided a detailed description of the training.

ICARDA's project manager presented the ET regional network plan, which aims to establish ET-network covering major crops in the seven countries participating in this network. The network will offer enough data to map the ET for irrigation agriculture and other weather monitoring applications.

This activity is implemented under the framework of the regional project “Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Water Efficiency/ Productivity and Sustainability in the Near East and North Africa WEPS-NENA” implemented by FAO, in collaboration with ICARDA. This project is funded by the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency.