A new way of farming: a man’s journey for Jordan’s eco-future

A new way of farming: a man’s journey for Jordan’s eco-future

By Cesilia Faustina

Photography by Cesilia Faustina

Michael Schuring is the owner of eco-agriculture technology distributor Desert Tulip

“If you look at Jordan, it’s the top three countries with water scarcities. If you look here in Jordan and anywhere else in the region, people don’t take care of the water.”

 

Jordan is on its way to a greener system of income, according to one business owner.

One man is trying to reshape the agriculture system in Jordan from a new technology called Groasis Waterboxx.

“I’m the founder of a company in agricultural supplies called Desert Tulip,” Michael said.

“We are the regional distributor here for a Dutch invention.

“It’s called Groasis technology.”

Michael Schuring is the owner and founder of Desert Tulip — an agriculture technology distributor that aims to save water and creates cost efficiency.

Desert Tulip distributes a number of Waterboxxes throughout different areas of Jordan.

“We’ve adopted this community called Muwaqqar, it’s in the middle of the desert,” he said.

“We had 250 people who paid for the water box and we added 250 boxes because we are also working on a project with USAID — it’s a two years project and right now we’re already in year two.

“What we did, we went to Muwaqqar and talked to the women society there and every family got five to ten boxes in their garden and we also put 50 water boxes at the school for boys and they planted olives, grapes, and zatar.

“The girls’ school was also 50 boxes and we planted grapes and because we had enough boxes we went to Madaba and planted in schools for kids with disabilities.

“We created some agricultural programs for it and that’s what we basically do.”

 

“If you look at Jordan, it’s the top three countries with water scarcities.”

 

The Dutch national said he wanted to create a more eco-friendly solution for Jordan through this technology — educating people on how the Waterboxx could be used.

Jordan is one of the poorest countries in terms of water, ranking as the third driest country in the world, according to Mercy Corps. USAID also stated that Jordan’s population growth has reduced the amount of fresh water available to less than 150 cubic meters, with groundwater being used twice at the rate that it can be recharged.

“If you look at Jordan, it’s the top three countries with water scarcities,” he said.

“If you look here in Jordan and anywhere else in the region, people don’t take care of the water.

“They plant a lot and the plants will always be dependent on water.

“With technology, you start out with small plants and the water boxes forces the plants to go deep into its roots, so you use 90% less water or more than 90% and you have a higher survivor rate.

“If you use less water, you don’t have to pump up the water

“What we’re looking for is, we’re not looking for next year but for 25 to 30 years because if we pump up the groundwater the soil will become so salty that you can’t grow anything anymore.”

 

A greener Jordan?

“We don’t have to dream of planting 2 billion trees, the land is there, we just need to plant it.”

 

“We want to help the poor community to try and create income with the Waterboxx.”

 

Michael said he would like to see a greener Jordan and hoped this technology will be a catalyst for a better and greener tomorrow.

“We want to help the poor community to try and create income with the Waterboxx,” he said.

“Then you give them some cash crops — something that grows fast for example, grapes, and second year you can grow olive or figs that take a longer time.

“Then we can see what kind of trees used to grow here a hundred years ago, so you get all this green-thought sort of country.”

The entrepreneur said he would like to see Jordan covered in trees, which would help to reduce some of the problems Jordan is currently facing.

“It’s not like I want to plant Jordan all with trees,” he said.

“Wadi Rum has its own flora and fauna but there’s a lot of cutting through wood.

“If you look a hundred years ago there were a lot of trees there and if there were a lot of trees then, you know they will survive.

“If you see it globally there’s 2 billion hectares of land that you can plant with trees that gives you a lot of work, income, etc. and trees if you plant them will make CO2 and pollution go away.

“You have to see it at a local scale and also as a whole.

“We don’t have to dream of planting 2 billion trees, the land is there, we just need to plant it.”

 

The Waterboxx journey

“You just want to think about it in 30 years time for [the children], to have a country that is green.”

 

Though Michael is happy with the results, he constantly encounters challenges along the way

 

The father of two said it was not always easy conducting these efforts — seeing how Groasis is a new technology.

“[Jordanians] are taking it positively but the thing is, it’s a new technology and sometimes I have to go into the fields and tell a guy who’s been doing this for 50 years that he’s not doing it the right way — generally they’re very open though,” he said.

“People are very open, but it’s also about the money — where can we get the money from?

“The lack of Waterboxx and lack of technology, it’s hard to see the difference between cost and investment, so what we did — besides the plastic Waterboxx, which you can use for 10 years — we now have a box made of paper, a biodegradable box.

“This box, it’s way cheaper, but you only use it once — for example, if you want to plant a forest 20 to 50 hectares then the paper Waterboxx would be better and for small farmers who don’t have the money for it.

“That’s what we’re working on then we can see if we can produce this box in Jordan. We can sell them to the distributors here in the whole region.”

Michael said he started this project after meeting the inventor of Groasis technology.

“It was in 2008/2010, I was at the airport in Amsterdam and I saw this guy walking with this Waterboxx and I was curious, so I asked him what it was,” he said.

“He said it was the Waterboxx, it was a new invention and he was going to go to the states to show it to everybody — and that was the business partner of the inventor.

“I always kept it in mind and then I Googled it — because I was never in agriculture — and when I came to work here, I was looking for opportunities and I was thinking what kind of work could I do?

“I was thinking about this Waterboxx and I thought it might be a good idea to try to sell it here in Jordan.

“I was talking to the inventor and then they became the distributor and I went into this whole new thing, agriculture.”

The eco-entrepreneur said the business was going well and they’ve managed to plant more of the boxes around Jordan — hoping people would eventually see the impact it has made.

 

Michael hoped people would be able to see the impacts the Waterboxx had made

 

“We are active in 25 to 30 countries and I can say that we have 30 good results in Chile, but people want to know how it works [in Jordan] and most of the time it’s knowing how you can get the funding,” he said.

“We have now planted these boxes in Muwaqqar and a lot of people tried to plant there, but it didn’t work — not as good, so hopefully they will see.

“Also I planted in Zarqa, we had the same concept 80 families, almost 200 Waterboxxes. Our first plantations were offseason — we planted in June or July at 40 degrees and we filled the water boxes and both of the water boxes didn’t need a refill.

“There were 60 meters in the box and it’s sufficient for a whole year; it depends on the soil sometimes if the soil is saltier it gives more water to the plant, but usually, you can leave it.

“We started with a small plant and now it’s a meter high.”

Michael said he would like to continue creating a greener community for the future and the children. He stated his journey was a never-ending experience he would like to keep taking part in.

“I started something where I didn’t know anything about agriculture,” he said.

“Now I learn how to be an expert in this technology and I also have agricultural engineers — they also help me about technical things about plants; I also have the inventor if I ever need to ask, but it’s a growing process.

“I hope I keep these challenges because I need to be challenged.

“You just want to think about it in 30 years time for [the children], to have a country that is green.”

 

“You just want to think about it in 30 years time for [the children], to have a country that is green.”

About

Michael Schuring is a Dutch local and the owner and founder of Desert Tulip Middle East — an agriculture technology distributor called Groasis Waterboxx, that focuses on water conservation and cost efficiency. Michael began his journey after meeting with the inventor of the Groasis technology and aimed to bring this system into Jordan. He would like to create a greener future for his children and the people in Jordan through this innovative system in farming. Michael is also the co-founder of a communications company called CrossChannel.

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