Jordan is a rather small, almost completely landlocked country located in the Middle East. Though small, it remains one of the more stable countries in the region, and it has welcomed over three million refugees from Syria and Palestine. With a small economy, foreign investors can tap into the growing number of skilled workers there.

Because of its semi-arid landscape, Jordan’s GDP makeup consists of industrial works such as mining and manufacturing. There is a severe lack of natural resources and agricultural, especially because the nation has the second least water per capita in the world. However, because of projects in intelligent and sustainable agriculture in Jordan, the country is still growing and improving livelihood for all its citizens.

A main focus for sustainable agriculture in Jordan is utilizing water effectively to generate income and food. For example, over the past several years, the Near East Foundation (NEF) has focused on fish farming. Instead of attempting to plant, grow and risk wasting water in arid plains, NEF uses reservoirs that both irrigate plant foods and double as fishponds. Through technical support, promoting local fish feed and other programs, NEF has helped produce 400 tons of tilapia a year in Jordan so farmers can supplement between traditional growing seasons.

Alternatively, some programs focus on cleaning the already existing water. Royal HaskoningDHV, an NGO from the Netherlands, recently won a contract to help restore the Lower Jordan River. In the past 60 years, the ecology of the river has changed drastically, with waste and saline water degrading the natural ecosystem. With an investment of $4.58 billion, Royal HaskoningDHV’s “master plan” will be positively impacting the river until 2050.

Even in the desert, farming continues, such as on the Rum Farm in South Jordan where 720 km of desert mountains and caverns reside. Through ancient and modern sustainable techniques, this farm has been able to cultivate a 2,000-hectare farm in an area where the monthly rainfall is five millimeters. Established in 1986, a key geographical aspect underground, a natural aquifer, allows for this farm to have abundant agriculture as farmers pull water from below. With pivoting water mechanisms, and modern polyplastic tunnels to store water, the farm employs 300 to 600 workers each season and produces thousands of tons of foodstuffs.

While it may not be the main economic power in the country, sustainable agriculture in Jordan has been able to flourish even under intense environmental pressures. With continued growth and support from projects similar to the aforementioned, they will be able to sustain an agricultural sector that defines itself by innovation and stability.

– Nick McGuire

Photo: Flickr

How to Help Comoros: Education and Development

Comoros, a group of three islands in the Indian Ocean, has great scenic beauty, although the nation is poor. Skilled workers often go to France, hurting development and leaving Comoros with a consistently low gross domestic product. Since its independence in 1975, Comoros has slowly gained self-sufficiency in food production, with subsistence farming being the top employer in the region and making up the bulk of the economy. This means that poor harvests and the potential to run out of useful land are major issues in Comoros, and the need to help people in Comoros diversify the economy is becoming more and more time-sensitive.

The nation is not completely without help, however. France provides major financial support, and other countries provide some financial aid as well, including Saudi Arabia and Japan. But in order for Comoros to move away from a subsistence farming and fishing industry and towards a more developed economy, it needs to expand and find better solutions that do not rely on foreign lending. The World Bank is cautiously optimistic that the new government elected in 2016 is starting to implement policies that may prove successful in helping the GDP grow through “expanding the coverage of the electricity network and relaunching public investments.”

Upward Mobility and Higher Education

One of the ways to help people in Comoros is to boost its areas of success, namely, the agricultural sector. This may not improve the nation’s economy, but stimulating this sector will help the poor in the region, most of whom live in rural areas where the only employment opportunities are in the agricultural sector. Upward mobility for the poor is crucial, as the last household survey conducted in 2014 found that almost 18% of the population lives under the international poverty line, which is set at $1.90 per capita per day. Therefore, in order to have enough money to pursue more developed industries, the people of Comoros need to rely on higher-paying agricultural sector work first.

In the long-term, Comoros is in a position to develop through better education initiatives and public spending. While the government does not have much money to work with, one of their first goals should be to increase spending for better schooling and then provide monetary rewards for those educated citizens that come back to the islands after college. Only then, through an educated populace, can the country really diversify its industry enough to increase the GDP and stimulate the economy. The population is already set up for this kind of initiative, with 53% of the citizens being under the age of 20, the perfect age group to benefit from better education and trade industries.

The Tourism Industry

Another way for Comoros to get an economic boost is to increase its tourism industry. Although tourists do go to Comoros due to its beautiful beaches and natural forests, the nation remains relatively unknown. Making a deal with a nation like France to bring in tourists and open up transportation to the island, as well as commercializing a few of the nicest beaches would not only stimulate the economy but also provide new employment opportunities for the citizens of Comoros. This is not to say that the islands should be completely commercialized, as it would take away from their natural beauty and culture, as well as harm their subsistence farming and fishing industries. However, a moderate tourist industry could be enough of a boost to provide funding for other useful initiatives.

Ultimately, Comoros has a struggling economy and a lack of development that cannot be turned around quickly. However, through diversifying industry, educating the populace and opening the islands up to more tourists, Comoros will have less poverty and more opportunities for its citizens moving forward.

Rachael Blandau

Photo: Flickr