Free-range eggs: a first for Jordan
Locally produced free-range eggs have recently become available in Jordan. An impressive first for the country. Mujeb Organic Farm in Amman took the advice offered by PUM and converted part of its business into a sustainable poultry farm.
Countries such as the Netherlands and Germany take the lead globally when it comes to expertise in sustainable egg production. Social awareness has changed a lot in these countries and this has led to the poultry sector investing considerably in new and improved techniques. Aspects such as the environment, animal welfare and food safety have become increasingly important and, in the shops, consumers can now choose from different gradations of sustainability, from barn egg to free-range and even organic.
Six million battery chickens
PUM expert Hein van der Worp travelled to Jordan to advise Mujeb Organic Farm. ‘The difference in knowledge between Jordan and a country such as the Netherlands is huge. Nearly all the eggs there are produced by the six million battery chickens in the country. ’Mujeb Organic Farm is a real pioneer in the market with its sustainability goals. The successful local farm already grows organic vegetables and produces sustainable olive oil. The entrepreneur wanted to expand the business by producing organic eggs and asked PUM for help.
Step by step
Hein: ‘During my first mission, I met up with extremely motivated people with the very best intentions and a strong drive to do things differently. But the conditions weren’t good enough to get started straight away. Entrepreneur Mamoun Arafah really wanted to launch into producing organic eggs but I advised against this. It would have been too big a step. I recommended that they first work towards producing free-range eggs. For a country such as Jordan, that’s already a giant step forward.’
Together with Mujeb Organic Farm, PUM drew up a business plan so as to ensure initial conditions could be met. They opted for a local variety of chicken and looked for feed that wasn’t genetically modified. The farm built a new barn, fully in line with Dutch standards with attention being paid to water supply, heating, light and the way in which the nests were laid out – all aspects that determine the success of egg production. Hein: ‘In just over six months, we’ve laid a solid foundation and the result is a business unit with over 1,000 chickens producing free-range eggs. It’s topnotch pioneering work for this region.’
Hein van der Worp
(65) has over 50 years’ national and international experience as expert in the poultry industry. He’s been a PUM expert for two years and in addition to his mission to Jordan, Hein has been to Indonesia and the Gaza Strip.
Mamoun Arafah, General Manager at Mujeb Organic Farm and Mujeb Nursery
For Mujeb Organic Farm, organic eggs and poultry presented a logical development in their range of organic produce. ‘Much of what is produced in Jordan is conventional: there’s excessive use of genetic modified grain, antibiotics, cages, and so on. Organic farming is our way of doing something good for the future,’ explains Mamoun. ‘However, organic poultry farming is an unfamiliar concept in Jordan and we couldn’t find experts locally that could help us set up production. We’d come across PUM a few years ago when an expert was in Jordan advising on composting, so it seemed right to approach them for help. PUM expert Hein van de Worp looked at our situation and gave us a detailed plan of approach, carefully mapping out the steps we needed to take to start off on our road to producing organic eggs. It was quickly clear that we need to work in phases, first learning about managing poultry and producing free-range eggs, with the chickens free of antibiotics and getting non-GMO feed, before moving on to organic production. Finding the right feed proved the biggest problem. At the moment, we’re buying the feed in locally, but in time we’d like to produce our own – we already have the organic agricultural land. Of course Hein is helping us with this plan too.’