Women entrepreneurs in Jordan make compost to produce positive environmental and socio-economic outcomes
Composting of organic waste, including farm residues is a needed waste management solution in Jordan, and presents an opportunity to produce positive environmental and socio-economic outcomes.
MEDA’s Jordan Valley Links (JVL) partnered with Future Pioneers for Empowering Communities (FEPC) to produce compost from organic waste that would otherwise be dumped in landfills. The initiative, Pioneering Green Composting Initiative for Local Women Cooperative in Southern Ghor Jordan aims to raise the capacity of Ghor Al-Naqe’e, a local women’s cooperative located in the southern Ghor, ultimately turning composting into a successful business creating sustainable livelihoods for cooperative members.
The South Ghor region in the Jordan Valley is considered the food basket of Jordan. It is almost fully dominated by the agricultural sector, which also comes with its challenges. The management of organic waste is an ongoing problem. Organic waste is currently either transferred to dump sites or used as livestock feed. Doing so creates serious environmental issues as farmers heavily use pesticides, insecticides and animal (poultry) fertilizers, all of which are deteriorating the soil, affecting the quality of agricultural production (mainly vegetables), and causing a severe fly problem that is affecting the health of local inhabitants and impeding tourism economic potential.
Future Pioneers provided capacity building programs for the women focusing on both theory and the practice of producing quality compost. The initiative also supported the purchase of essential equipment to enable the women to produce the composting with the required specifications, a shredder, temperature gauge, humidity gauge, balance device, spades, trolleys and personal protective equipment.
Future Pioneers also supported the women entrepreneurs along the composting value chain with developing market linkages, initiated workshops for farmers to change their knowledge, attitude and practices toward the composting and investigated opportunities in other governorates in Jordan such as Amman.
The pilot is proving to be a success story with the first 25 tons of green compost produced from 100 tons of green waste by the efforts of eight women. Their compost was tested by a specialized laboratory in Jordan to measure ratios of nitrogen, carbon, organic matters, and moisture, where all tests showed positive results and proved the readiness of the compost to be used for agricultural purposes. In addition, women have used samples of this compost as a test on a demo pilot area and results were extremely optimistic.
Recently the women sold their 25 tons of compost for 25 JOD per ton generating 625 JOD in sales. While this is a success, the women now face the challenge of competing with unregulated compost that sells for half the price. This will require a strong marketing and sensitization campaign along with increasing efficiencies in production.
COVID-19 has also presented some challenges with lockdowns and a slowdown in trading, but despite COVID-19 the women’s insistence on learning and working was the main factor in the success of the pilot project.
About the Author
Ehab Eid is the Environment and Clean Technology Adviser of the Jordan Valley Links project. He has a Master’s Degree in multilateral environmental conventions. He is passionate about working with environmental field, and specifically biodiversity conservation. He started his career path working with marine environmental research and studies in 2002, at the Marine Science Station, and moved then to start working at the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature; and he served after this as the executive director of the Royal Marine Conservation Society. Ehab believes that the environment is a priority and a key driver for a successful socio-economic growth. Therefore, it should be mainstreamed into sectorial and sub-sectoral levels.