Eleven cooperatives across the country will have the opportunity to embark on much-needed income-generating projects to finance their activities and create jobs thanks to the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. Under an agreement signed on Wednesday between Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Jafar Hassan, Jordanian Cooperative Corporation President Maen Rsheidat and the heads of 11 cooperatives, the ministry will provide JD351,000 to fund various projects that are expected to create some 65 jobs. The ventures include a coffee and nuts roastery, wedding hall, sewing workshop, water filtering station, fodder grinder, beauty salon and a vegetable cultivating scheme. Seham Bani Issa, president of the Tobneh Cooperative Society, said the lack of a roastery in Deer Abi Saeed District was the reason why she applied to the ministry for funding. \"It will attract people from all over the district, especially since we will ensure the quality of the spices and coffee granules,\" she told The Jordan Times yesterday. \"It will also provide a good income for the society\" and create three job opportunities added Bani Issa, who received a JD12,242 grant. Another project that received JD70,000 in funding yesterday entails cultivating grape vines with the use existing water sources in the Qarerah area in Aqaba on a 70-dunum plot of land. The scheme, which will employ three people and hire eight others during the harvest season, will be implemented by the Wadi Araba and Amareen cooperatives. \"Through the Enhanced Productivity Programme, the ministry supported more than 500 income-generating ventures since 2002 that created thousands of jobs and increased the income of cooperative members,\" the minister said during the signing ceremony. He also pointed out that the ministry has amended the standards of the small grant programme to lower the minimum number of members required in societies from 50 to 30 to be considered for support. As part of its poverty reduction strategy, the ministry launched the JD25 million poverty pockets empowerment programme earlier this year to benefit 32 regions classified as the most deprived over a 30-month period. Also yesterday, the ministry signed an agreement to extend soft loans to cooperatives and charities to enable them to initiate and run income-generating projects. Under the agreement, signed with the Development and Employment Fund (DEF), the ministry will support the soft loan portfolio with JD1 million from the allocations of the Enhanced Economic Productivity Programme, a nationwide scheme designed to develop local communities by assisting citizens in setting up small- and medium-sized projects. For its part, the DEF will extend JD200,000 to support the cooperatives in running their own projects. A total of JD100,000 will be allocated for each governorate to establish income-generating ventures for societies and develop their current projects. \"Extending loans to local cooperatives is based on feasibility studies, and the repayment period for each loan will be eight years with a grace period of six months,\" Hassan said while signing the agreement with DEF Director General Omar Omari. He indicated that the programme is expected to create 300 direct and indirect work opportunities once completed. The agreement is part of the cooperation between the ministry and the fund, under which the ministry provided the DEF with JD6 million over the last three years to fund 550 small- and medium-sized enterprises that created hundreds of jobs.