Interview with Dr. Rida Shibli Khawaldeh(رضا شبلي الخوالدة)
An exclusive interview on the future of agriculture
October 28, 2021
Written by Jayun Choi
On Thursday, October 28, 2021, a group of students from the Global Young Leaders Course (Jayun Choi, Dabin Noh, Chaeeun Shin, Quetak Kim, and Minchae Kang) were privileged to have this invaluable opportunity to interview Dr. Rida Shibli provided by Dr.Samadi from FAPPD, Dr. Farrukh and Dr.Hanna and Dr. Kusmoto from APDA.
Dr. Rida Shibli Khawaldeh is the former minister of agriculture in Jordan and president of the University of Jordan and Mutah University. He also studied plant production at the University of Jordan, later obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. In this interview, he has shared his personal motif to join the parliament. Discussions had an eye-opening experience as he shared his insights and perspectives toward the current issues ranging from post-COVID19, ongoing education system reform, aging population, as well as his field of specialty - agriculture-.
Below is a slightly edited transcript of the interview between Dr. Rida Shibli.
What did you decide to join the parliament after your academic career? Can you please share with us your personal or professional experience which you find useful when working in parliament?
Thank you, I am also highly pleased to be with you, and it’s gratifying to be with students. As I know that today we are in the parliaments, the future of the parliament would be in the hands of all students. In my case, I got my Ph.D. in 1990. I was in the department of agriculture, President of Universities, which are significant universities in Jordan, and have become the minister of Agriculture. With this experience, I was assigned to work in the upper house. But, I have dreamed of working in parliament from a leadership program that allowed me to visit and attend the sessions and discussions with them. With this experience, I wanted to be involved in my country regarding laws.
What do you think about youth involvement in politics?
Youth should be involved. They are the future of politics. Indeed, there are words from the man in Islam to educate your kids for a time, not for your time. I certainly believe that youths are going to be the ones leading the future, becoming the parliaments, ministers, and global leaders. They are filled with multifaceted views, ideas, and energy, providing newly refreshing administrations. Jordan acknowledges their significance, trying to lower the age to involve more youths in our parliament. (Currently, parliament of Jordan asks ages above 30 to be involved.) I encourage all the youths for more participation and support their enthusiasm toward global world issues.
What’s the significance of Jordan’s educational system? If there are certain disciplines - computers, foreign languages, are emphasizing education programs to prepare youth for a better technological future?
Currently, Jordan has a very dynamic educational system. Students could voluntarily add new classes, regarding their interest field. With this system, students were permitted to have their own curriculum tailored to their interested area. Jordan is also trying to adapt to many educational systems to take our students to the next level. At the same time, Jordan has been putting much effort on the field of ICT as it has been a significant part in our contemporary world. Even with the severity of COVID-19, Jordan was able to adapt easily in the field of education and businesses. The country has also been spotting a lot of effort on linguistics, providing French, German, English and more languages than only Arabic.
Has COVID-19 and telelearning changed circumstances regarding access to education in Jordan?
As universities have been prepared by subscribing based on the databases, access to the education and online course are smoothly going on. Jordan now aims at the achievements of each student even after online education. Saying not only as a person from Jordan, but as an expert in the field of education, students and universities are both accepting the situation and especially universities are able to give the quality of educations to students, with helps from Japan and other nations to build up the system.
Could you share us ongoing smart agriculture projects in Jordan, an agricultural hub in the Middle East?
Two weeks ago, I had a workshop with Turkish partners on smart agriculture. Currently, in Jordan, water has been lacking, drying off the areas. As water is a limited resource, we have been putting much effort to maximize the efficacy of water utilizing, to not lose any water to keep our agricultural system going on. One of our applications is smart agricultural system - managing the water control on plants -, permitting farmers to have no impact on their production. For those who have applied the system had to suffer of losing half of their production as they could not remotely check the farm during the social distancing. Simultaneously, we are trying to develop a plant or a system that could adapt to climate change and have applications for the agricultural extension - marketing products to connect farmers directly to the users-. We are trying to enhance agricultural systems in Jordan, not only for Jordan but for near East and Africa - suffering from the same issue as Jordan.
Unlike other nations, Jordan is uniquely dealing with employment issue other than universal aging problem. How is Jordan coping with employment?
Having more than 50% of younger generations in the country has been focusing on how to provide jobs for them. Jordan certainly has a population opportunity; growth rate in Jordan is relatively higher than other nations, considering how to bring the maximum efficacy in the nation by the large scale of population. At the same time, Jordan has been granting beneficial social security stem - naturally talented in taking care of people as it is part of their religion and culture-, those who serve in military could also be under the umbrella of health insurance and social security.
While a culturally and academically galvanizing, Dr. Rida will continue his work to enhance agricultural and educational systems in Jordan. Students from APDA Global Young Leaders Course was also permitted to discover new aspects in the Kingdom of Jordan - smart agriculture, ongoing digitized education and employment- and endeavor deeply on their research: poverty, population aging, and environment for presenting in youth forum.
* This article is written by student of 『APDA’s Global Young Leaders Course』
** Copyright of this article is in the APDA and it is prohibited from unauthorized copying without permission
Editing Dr. Hanna Yoon