Mohammad Abu Sido, a young, aspiring agricultural engineer, saw the benefits of hydroponic farming early on and built a hydroponic system based on YouTube tutorials and his own research. He used readily available materials such as PVC pipes to design and create an NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) system to plant lettuce in a traditional single tunnel greenhouse. Mohammad was delighted with the results and wanted to do more but lacked the knowledge and knowhow. So, when the Hydroponic Agriculture and Employment Development (HAED-Jo) project started, he was quick to get on board as he had seen firsthand the benefits of water saving and increased productivity which also meant a quicker payback. Mohammad had his hopes set high; his goal was a controlled, multi-span greenhouse, and now he was getting one.
On Sunday, June 24, 2018, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, visited Abu Sido Farms in Kraymeh, Jordan Valley, and unveiled the project plans for a multi-span hydroponic greenhouse. The HAED-Jo Project, funded by the Dutch Foreign Ministry, and implemented by ECO Consult, is constructing the project’s first multi-span hydroponic greenhouse for Abu Sido Farms.
Minister Kaag undraped the project, and Eng. Raed Daoud, Managing Director of ECO Consult, presented the multi-span greenhouse and the technologies to be implemented. Eng. Raed revealed that the greenhouse will include climate control units to monitor heat and humidity, but it will also have features to regulate and achieve the optimal atmosphere for plant growth, including butterfly flaps and fogging systems. All this will be connected to a software system that can connect through a mobile phone and will allow for regulation from afar. He added, that the site will also include an automated fertigation unit that will be used to optimize fertilizer use and reduce the labor cost needed for monitoring and calibration.
Eng. Raed also presented the hydroponic project and the advantages expected with regards to the water, energy, and environment as compared to traditional soil farming, as hydroponics aims to maximize economic return per cubic meter of water and per meter squared of land. He explained the benefits of hydroponics on the farm level as well as the national level. He pointed out that water shortages limit cultivated areas, and that hydroponics is a solution for the scarcity. In addition to a significant decrease in water consumption, pesticide, fertilizer and labor utilization are also expected to decrease. Eng. Raed also highlighted the expected increase in production under the hydroponics systems, and the improvement in quality and uniformity of produce.
Minister Kaag was accompanied by the Dutch Ambassador in Amman Barbara Joziasse and a delegation from Holland as well as the Dutch Embassy in Jordan and various Jordanian officials as well as different farmers, exporters, and suppliers in Jordan. The visit came on the sidelines of her official two-day visit to Jordan, which was set to discuss mutual economic projects, trade, and agricultural ventures between the two kingdoms, as well as means of enhancing existent cooperation.
During the visit, Hasan Abu Sido and his son Mohammad, took the Minister on a tour of the farm showing her the various technological advancements being used, including the RO unit, which purifies the water through a membrane system. The Jordan Valley receives water from the King Talal Dam through the King Abdullah Channel, but the salinity of the water is high for cultivation, therefore most farmers in the area use RO units. The father and son also showed the Minister their stone fruit orchards, where they are using v-shaped growing to enhance production. The Minister also viewed the soil cultivation inside the traditional tunnel greenhouses. Abu Sido explained that he expects faster and better produce from the multi-span greenhouse.
At the end of the visit, all the guests enjoyed a breakfast of hydroponically grown fruits and vegetables. The event proved to be an important step forward and a great example to promote and demonstrate the economic benefits linked to hydroponic farming and how it could be implemented at other farms. Consequently, positive reactions were heard from the Dutch Minister mainly because if the hydroponic project expands, Jordan will witness significant water saving.