The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Union (EU) have announced a three-year project to improve agriculture in the Syrian Arab Republic through the enhancement of smallholder capabilities.
The “Smallholder support programme for agriculture transformation” project will benefit 45 000 smallholder farmers in up to ten governorates across the country. The project will train smallholder farmers and livestock keepers and provide agricultural inputs that will help producers become more productive, more efficient and more profitable. In addition, the farmers will be more informed, more self-organized and more risk-aware.
In his opening speech, the FAO representative in the Syrian Arab Republic, Mike Robson, stated that the project will provide farmers with access to quality cereal and pulse seeds and improve the efficiency of use and management of water resources through the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes. Furthermore, the project will scale-up market access for key commodities and add value to farmers’ production by increasing opportunities for processing. The project will also encourage farmers to become more market-oriented by helping them gain access to information and new technologies.
The project’s interventions will improve the efficiency of farmers’ crop production by improving the management of water resources and through the adoption of modern water-saving irrigation techniques by small-scale farmers. To achieve this, farmers and up to 500 technicians will be trained on integrated water management and climate change adaptation.
In addition, FAO and the EU will enhance the seed multiplication system for key strategic crops, including wheat, barley, chickpeas and lentils, by involving farmers in the process through interaction with research and training on good seed multiplication practices. “The seed multiplication intervention will contribute to increasing the production of quality seed. FAO aims to improve early generations and certified seed for up to 75 000 tonnes of wheat, 30 000 tonnes of barley, 1 300 tonnes of chickpeas and 800 tonnes of lentils by the end of the project. Moreover, this intervention will enhance the long term availability of quality seed to farmers, and so will underpin production of cereals and food legumes in the Syrian Arab Republic,” said Alfredo Impiglia, FAO-Syria’s Chief Technical Adviser.
Crop producers and livestock owners will be involved throughout the cycle of food production to enhance the quality of local food. This will ensure that their products are competitive in the local market and improve their financial situation. FAO will train farmers and livestock owners on business-oriented topics, in addition to training them on enhanced agricultural practices. Furthermore, there will be capacity-building trainings to improve management of primary processing units in sub-sectors, such as dairy and tomato processing at a number of locations in the Syrian Arab Republic. This component builds on pilot work from earlier projects.
Sustainable access to an advanced early warning and information systems will assist farmers in mitigating the risks of crop failure due to unfavourable weather conditions. FAO and the EU’s support will help farmers become more informed and aware of approaching weather conditions so that they can implement the necessary precautions to safeguard their crop production.
The farmers, including women and youth, will have the opportunity to create their own networks to promote their products and access new market opportunities through agribusiness hubs established by FAO and the EU. The hubs will promote discussions and agreements between farmers and traders and will provide a wider understanding of market demands regarding quality and safety standards, timeliness, contractual obligations, etc., which will help increase the income of smallholders.
This set of life-changing interventions will contribute to a model for the transformation of agriculture in the Syrian Arab Republic. The smallholder farmers will become agents of this change by becoming proficient in managing their resources and other operational processes, which will improve food security and improve their livelihoods.