AGP - detail
 
Project
TCP/SYR/3303 - Improved rice technologies for the enhancement of irrigated non flooded rice (Aerobic rice) production in Syria
Project classifiers
TCP, Seeds, plant genetic resources
Summary text
The project contributes to the Strategic Objective of FAO A1: Policies and strategies on sustainable crop production intensification and diversification at national and regional levels.
Full description

Syria’s population has been expanding rapidly and continues to grow at a pace of 2.4% per year. From 10 million in 1978 it reached 21 million in 2008. This situation puts a heavy pressure on the need to provide sufficient food of good quality for all and create job opportunities, especially in the rural areas to reduce migration to urban areas, and generate income to preserve the livelihood of the rural and urban population.
Over the years the water availability for irrigation has dwindled and the rainfall has reduced as a result of climate change. The Government, in the 10th national 5-year plan (2006-2010), has given high priority to agriculture and irrigation and has launched the national programme to improve water use efficiency with the overall objective to maintain a total area of 1.2 million hectares of irrigated agriculture. The same has been confirmed in the 11th five-year-plan. In addition, the Government is considering the introduction of additional strategic crops like aerobic rice and other high value strategic crops as a priority in the upcoming 5-year-plan.
In order to pursue the optimum use of the water resources, the justification and competitiveness of the current traditional and “strategic” irrigated crops is questioned. GCSAR has done considerable research on aerobic rice and other high value strategic crops, coupled with and better crop management and the project would be able to use the results of such research that are to be disseminated through the decentralised GCSAR centres and the decentralised offices of the Directorates of Crop Production and Extension Services.
While Syria has a potential to diversify its agriculture sector with special attention to strategic crops, it remains very much “conservative” as a result of the past centralised economy and public assistance with guaranteed farm gate prices. As a result of the free global market, the food import bill is every day more expensive, e.g. imports of rice has exceeded 200,000 MT in 2009 resulting in high pressure on the balance of trade. The endeavour and commitment to better value Syria’s agriculture sector for import substitution or export is recent but is very explicit in the 10th National Five-Year Development Plan. In this context the introduction of new high value strategic crop like aerobic rice is one of the options taking into considerations the social and geographical impediments, with the aims of better water use efficiency, enhanced food security and livelihood of the farming community.
Strategic crops like aerobic rice for Syria are part of broader concept that entails the search for comparative economic advantage for local and/or export markets taking into consideration the need for efficient water use, increased returns per cubic meter of water and per unit of land.
The project would provide the required technical assistance to overcome the major technical bottlenecks identified for adoption of suitable varieties of aerobic rice by farmers:  i) lack of know how about the aerobic rice crop management:  ii) promotion of most suitable aerobic rice varieties and relevant farm technologies, and iii) capacity enhancement of relevant institutions’ capacity in support of the national aerobic rice programme.
The private sector (the Local Community Organizations and NGOs and the Peasant Union) would have to play a key role in conjunction with the extension service and with the support of GCSAR and Plant Protection Directorate to jointly facilitate the promotion of aerobic rice as high value strategic crop in Syria. 
Adequate “refresher training” would be organised to bring the extension services up to date on the different varieties of aerobic rice crop options and their cultivation to enable training and follow-up advisory services to the farmers who would be willing to include aerobic rice as part of their crop mix.
In addition the Government will establish a “Steering Committee” for aerobic rice agriculture options with project assistance for the elaboration of the mandate, membership, modus operandi. Its role will be to communicate with the Government on eventual policy and strategy decisions to be made to facilitate the promotion of aerobic rice cultivation. This committee will comprise representatives of different ministries, farmers community, Peasants Union and private sector who are stakeholders of the aerobic rice crop programme. 
With this context, the Government of Syria requested FAO’s assistance as part of its Technical Cooperation Programme, to enhance cultivation of aerobic rice crop, for which FAO has a comparative advantage. This is a national endeavour to make best use of the limited water resources for irrigated crops, raise income for the farmers and reduce imports of rice for increased national consumption, in line with the new Government policy of market economy, as re-confirmed in the Government 11th five-year-plan.
The project contributes to different Organizational Results (ORs) in line with FAO’s medium term plan and more specifically to OR A1: Policies and strategies on sustainable crop production diversification and intensification at national and regional levels; OR H1: Countries and stakeholders have strengthened capacity, to formulate implement and monitor coherent policies, strategies and programmes that address root causes of hunger, food insecurity and hunger.

Project outputs/results/impact

Impact :
 
The project will contribute to enhance food security and improve the livelihoods of farmers’ communities whose farming depends on irrigation from rivers for production. It will result in the diversification and enhancement of rice production as a part of a national endeavour to make best use of the limited water resources for irrigated crops, raise income for the farmers and reduce imports of rice for the increasing national consumption.
 
Outcome and Outputs
 
Outcome 1:  Cultivation of non flooded rice (Aerobic rice) promoted and its productivity and cost effectiveness enhanced in Syria.
Output 1.  National technical capacity and local technology transfer/extension capacities strengthened in support of the national programme on non-flooded rice production.
Activity 1.1. Prepare appropriate / properly tailored training programme for researchers and extensionists;
Activity 1.2. Assist the Agricultural Extension Directorate to plan, implement and monitor the rice development programme, and to disseminate the results effectively; 
Activity 1.3. Train forty research and extension staff of the Ministry trained on improved technologies on irrigated non flooded rice (Aerobic rice)operations as well as on appropriate technology for maintenance of the irrigation schemes and water management  in rice production;
Activity 1.4.  Prepare and conduct training of trainers programme to strengthen the capability of the Agricultural Extension Directorate to perform farmers training and expansion of rice knowledge to farmers in the targeted provinces;
Activity 1.5. Provide a platform for enhancing national capacities, and facilitating effective future cooperation between Syria and other countries within the framework of South-South Cooperation, provided.
 
Output 2. Suitable rice varieties introduced and appropriate farming technology packages/practices including post harvest techniques provided;
Activity 2.1.  Identify additional potential aerobic rice varieties suitable to climatic conditions of Syria; 
Activity 2.2.   Provision of planting materials of the identified varieties;
Activity 2.3.  Conduct testing and demonstration plots for available and identified potential varieties; 
Activity 2.4. Assist the Agricultural Extension Directorate to implement, train and disseminate the results through demonstration plots, effectively.
 
Output 3.  Non flooded rice (Aerobic rice) cultivation promoted and productivity enhanced; 
Activity 3.1.  Promote cultivation of potential aerobic rice varieties which proved suitable to climatic conditions of Syria; 
Activity 3.2.  Develop/ Make available appropriate farm technologies packages and systems for optimum rice production to increase productivity and farmers’ income;
Activity 3.3. Promote new/ better farming technologies through demondtration plot at farmers fields  supported with Farmers Field Schools, drawing on regional and global lessons and experiences;
Activity 3.4. Provision of equipments and supplies as foreseen in the project.

Output 4. At least 50 farmers (women/men) from Al Raqqa and Deir Ezzor provinces trained on the appropriate technology for crop, soil and water management for non flooded rice (Aerobic rice) production, through farmers field schools;
Activity 4.1. Identify at least 50 pilot farmers to conduct demonstration plots;
Activity 4.2. Prepare training package for farmers using FFS;
Activity 4.3. Conduct necessary training to the selected farmers through FFS.
 
Output 5.  A medium-term programme formulated to accelerate the implementation of the non flooded rice (Aerobic rice) within the context of the endorsed contributing to National Programme for food security, poverty alleviation and economic empowerment of rural dwellers in the country;
Activity 5.1. Draft a medium-term programme (for the period 2011-2015) to accelerate / promote cultivation of the non flooded rice at different potential regions, drawing on local, regional and global experiences;
Activity 5.2.  Hold a national workshop to discuss the drafted medium-term programme, involving all stake holders;
Activity 5.3.  Finalize the drafted medium-term programme for the period 2011-2015 to accelerate  / promote cultivation  of the non flooded rice (Aerobic rice) at different potential regions, taking into account inputs from the national workshop.

Project duration
Feb 2011 - Jan 2013
Project budget
210,000 US $
AGP Contact
Pandey Shivaji, (AGP Director), plant production and Protection Division(AGP) Room B738, Tel. (0039) 06570 55004, Fax. (0039) 06570 53057, Email: Shivaji.Pandey@fao.org
Project partner information

Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform - Arabic Repubblic of Syria

Geografic reference
Near East, Syria