National Fodder Cultivation Project– Al Mohammadiyah

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The rangelands of the Badia have historically been the main source of forage and fodder for livestock in Jordan. Due to the overgrazing of vegetation and frequent droughts, rangeland productivity has declined over time. Several studies indicate that rangeland production has sharply decreased over the previous three decades. Currently, Jordan’s rangeland produces approximately 597-765 thousand tons of dry matter, which provide about half a million feed units, or 25% of the country’s need. The growing gap between supply and demand has been exacerbated from the loss of highly productive agricultural areas in high rainfall zones due to urbanization and urban sprawl. Currently, the Badia constitutes the only available lands for agricultural expansion and forage production, which both require irrigation.

Inspired by a royal vision from his Majesty King Abdullah II, Jordan’s government began to formulate plans and launch projects focusing on forage and fodder production. The plans were also encouraged by the rapid inflation of forage prices on the international market. Following these plans, in 2008 the HFDJB took the initiative and launched the first project for forage production in Al Mohammadiyah in Ma’an Governorate.

Following a Royal Decree by his Majesty King Abdullah II, the government adopted a strategy aiming to reduce dependency on outside markets, and to provide affordable forage for livestock owners and farmers. The three main areas of the Jordanian Badia (north, middle, and south) have been included in forage cultivation plans. The first phase of this project started in 2008 in the southern Badia, in the Al Mohammadiah area. Through this project, HFDJB has endeavored to meet the national demand for barley and green fodder through cultivation of 5000 hectares of barley, corn (for silage), alfalfa, and Rhodes grass. The project has sought to utilize the “Jafir” Basin where groundwater was previously not fully utilized.

The project’s key objectives have been to provide domestic sources of livestock feed, improve the productivity of fodder-growing lands, preserve natural rangeland, and control the number of livestock flocks. The project is also expected to provide barley seeds and green forage (silage) for poor farmers at affordable prices. In 2010, several units for livestock production and dairy processing units were added to the project near the Qareen area to process milk products and to introduce methods of integrated agriculture to the local community. Furthermore, several land units were allocated for local farmers inside the project to ensure community participation and training on the selection of sustainable crops.Through this, the HFDJB has emphasized hands-on capacity building for local communities to ensure the greater institutionalization of the practices being taught. The HFDJB aspires to convert the project location into a pioneering center for integrated research and development in the areas of alternative energy and land reclamation through partnership with national and international partners.

 Challenges and Constraints

  1. Soil Reclamation: Most of the Badia’s soils are classified as arid with relatively high salt and base contents (Further details are available at http://alic.arid.arizona.edu/jordansoils/ [1]). This is attributed primarily to low rainfall and the weakness of chemical weathering. Therefore, some soil may require reclamation and leaching of salts. The option of deep plowing and replacement of sodium salts with calcium and magnesium was selected and implemented. Results showed significant improvement in yield and germination after the first season, and an excellent yield of barley was obtained in 2010. The challenge of soil salinity is currently motivating the HFDJB to adopt new technologies for soil reclamation and conservation, and to build on gained experience from this project.

  2. Climate: Some areas in the Badia are characterized by a hot and dry climate in spring, when barley kernels fill and other crops flower. This climate stresses the crop greatly and may lead to crop failure in some seasons. Therefore, the project also focuses on adopting the production of silage to provide green forage. Furthermore, crop rotation practices have helped to reduce the risk of crop failure.

 Project Objectives

  • To produce 20 thousand tons of barley seed.
  • To produce straw to be sold at preferential rates to the local community and livestock owners.
  • To produce green fodders such as alfalfa and Rhodes grass as well as silage.
  • To create new and sustainable job opportunities for the local community.
  • To establish an integrated project for livestock production and dairy processing plant.

 Project Components

  • To produce 20 thousand tons of barley seed.

  • To produce straw to be sold at preferential rates to the local community and livestock owners.

  • To produce green fodders such as alfalfa and Rhodes grass as well as silage.

  • To create new and sustainable job opportunities for the local community.

  • To establish an integrated project for livestock production and a

 Achievements (June, 2016)

  • 700 tons of barley seeds have been produced.

  • 200 tons of wheat grain (a complementary crop) have been produced.

  • 30,000 bales of straw (1 bale = 1 ton) have been produced and packaged.

  • 660 bales of silage (1 bale = 1 ton) have been produced and packaged.

  • 50 hectares of alfalfa, 50 hectares of Rhodes grass, and 50 hectares of sorghum (for silage) have been cultivated.

  • 30 hectares of land have been allocated and prepared as demo sites for the local community.

  • Hangars and barracks for 1000 heads of sheep have been built.

  • Dairy plant equipment and machinery has been purchased, rehabilitated, and/or maintained as needed.

  • 63 sustainable jobs have been created and filled by local community members.