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|22 January, 2018

Jordan's rooftop farming initiative offers fresh start for the needy

Jordan is a fertile land full of natural resources

Post office employees harvests vegetables on a 900 square meters farm garden on the rooftop of their postal sorting center, as part of a project by Facteur Graine (Seed Postman) association to transform a city rooftop as a vegetable garden to grow fruits, vegetables, aromatic and medicinal plants, with also chickens and bees in Paris, France, September 22, 2017. Image used for illustrative purpose

Post office employees harvests vegetables on a 900 square meters farm garden on the rooftop of their postal sorting center, as part of a project by Facteur Graine (Seed Postman) association to transform a city rooftop as a vegetable garden to grow fruits, vegetables, aromatic and medicinal plants, with also chickens and bees in Paris, France, September 22, 2017. Image used for illustrative purpose

REUTERS/Charles Platiau

AMMAN — The rooftops of Karak are being turned into new agricultural spaces with “Be a Friend to the Environment”, an initiative founded by 30-year-old entrepreneur Faten Al Rahaife, which aims at creating new spaces for composting within rural communities.

“We create new spaces for cultivation on the houses’ roofs to make up for the lack of agricultural areas, planting products that are suitable to the nature of our region such as zaatar, marmara, potatoes a cucumbers,” Rahaife told The Jordan Times, stressing that “Jordan is a fertile land full of natural resources, while the nature of its climate is suitable for the cultivation, and we need to take into account these resources and what we can achieve with them”.

But Rahaife’s goals are two-fold, and while raising environmental awareness, the entrepreneur is also creating new employment opportunities for unemployed women, refugees and individuals with special needs.

“The idea came during a discussion session at the Tameem Bin Aws Al Daricivil society organisation, where we had to come up with solutions to benefit those in need using the available resources in our community,” the entrepreneur recalled.

“By pursuing an environmentally friendly activity, we have been able to create employment opportunities for women to work from their own homes while breaking the shame barrier that the culture imposes in female workers,” Rahaife continued,adding that “ many refugees have lost their breadwinners in war,so we decided to enable them economically by providing them with the material and creating a good environment for the cultivation and marketing of the products”.

Rahaife is now one of the 24 fellows of the fourth edition of the BADIR social entrepreneurship support programme, which equips Jordanian leaders with the skills and knowledge needed to scale up their social projects.

Led by the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through a grant from the USAID Civic Initiatives Support Programme, the programme aims to “connect young, ambitious social entrepreneurs to like-minded peers from around the world to help them create a wide-spread, positive change around their communities”, according to BADIR’s official website.

Asked about her expectations on the BADIR programme, Rahaife told The Jordan Times that “such fellowship provides you with a better experience and opportunities to network“, adding that “the objective now is to sustain the initiative and to spread it beyond Karak in a way so we can provide a larger number of employment opportunities”.

The entrepreneur is nowlooking forward to increasing the number of volunteers committed with the initiative, aiming to launch an extensive awareness campaign regarding the benefits and potential income that can be generated from the project while creating a sustainable, environment-friendly source of production and revenue.

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