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SFP, HTU collaborate to support youth in agri-tech

By Batool Ghaith - Nov 20,2021 - Last updated at Nov 20,2021

Norway’s Ambassador to Jordan Espen Lindback presides over the signing ceremony of an agreement between the Sahara Forest Project and Al Hussein Technical University on Thursday (Photo courtesy of the SFP)

AMMAN — The Sahara Forest Project (SFP) and Al Hussein Technical University (HTU) on Thursday signed a new collaboration agreement in Amman in the Norwegian ambassador’s residence.

According to a statement from the SFP, the partnership aims to build upon the successful collaboration between the SFP and HTU in implementing the pilot phase of the “Upskilling Programme in Food Security and Agriculture Technology”, which was concluded in October. Both entities renewed commitment to work together on anchoring, expanding and sustaining the programme, which is the “first of its in kind” in Jordan.  

“The project aims to develop the skills and competencies of young Jordanian graduates interested in working in innovative and sustainable agri-tech and food production in response to Jordan’s water, energy and climate action priorities,” the statement said.

Norway’s Ambassador to Jordan Espen Lindback expressed his enthusiasm about the project by visiting the SFP site in Aqaba along with stakeholders earlier this month.

“During COP26 earlier this month, World Leaders emphasised the need to expedite climate action. In that spirit, I am very proud to host this event with HTU and the SFP focusing on the education of Jordanian youth, especially women, in sustainable climate-smart agriculture,” the ambassador said.

He noted that the cooperation between the SFP and HTU will enable young Jordanian women to gain exposure and acquire skills for the future.

“The aim of this programme is not only to empower female engineers to enter the market as employees, but also to inspire them to pursue innovation and entrepreneurship in the sustainable agriculture and food security sectors”, the ambassador told The Jordan Times.

“I am hopeful that this innovative climate smart agri-tech pilot project and the upskilling programme will also be an enabler of green development in the region,” he said.

Lindback emphasised that the key to realising Jordan’s potential is through women’s participation, noting that the embassy is supporting a wide range of projects, including the Jordanian Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

“In turn, I believe the students contribute to the further development of the SFP by providing their ideas and knowledge. The collaboration with HTU also promotes local partnership and local ownership of the project,” he added.

“Jordan is blessed with the sun and with amazing talented youth. The SFP has demonstrated the use of these valuable inputs to produce more economic opportunities through exports, jobs, and sustainable solutions”, Lindback noted.

The ambassador emphasised that there is a potential for increasing trade and investment between the countries.

“It is my hope that in the future, there will be even more trade and investments and more people to people cooperation, also in the form of tourism between both countries,” he said. 

President of HTU Ismail Al Hinti highlighted the importance of cooperation during the signing ceremony.

“This partnership with the SFP, supported by the Norwegian government, is the momentum that paves the way towards innovation, entrepreneurship, the development of agri-tech, and the empowerment of ambitious young females, which are all considered a top priority for HTU as well as to a country like Jordan,” he said.

Ruba Al Zu’bi, SFP representative in Jordan, expressed her happiness about the project, emphasising that the collaboration with HTU is a source of daily inspiration for everybody involved with the SFP both in Jordan and in Norway.

“The transformation of the young ladies on a personal as well as a professional level is heart-warming and promising. The SFP is committed to include this programme as one of its strategic pillars for the scale-up phase. We aspire to provide a real model for partnership that combines both economic development and social impact,” Zu’bi said.

Jamela Alzu’bi, a 27-year-old Jordanian environmental engineer from the first cohort of the SFP described her experience as “wonderful and enriching”.

Alzu’bi, who graduated from the project in 2016, indicated that being part of the project meant a lot to her.

“It was great being part of such a unique project, as it is the first of its kind in the Middle East. I am very glad to have learned a lot about agriculture, food security and agri-tech, especially as I had a different background.We also gained many soft skills as well which helped me bothacademically and professionally,” she told The Jordan Times.

Alzu’bi noted that the programme has also helped her to find a job, which was “a moment of pride” for her.

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