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Supporting Syrian farmers to continue their cereal crop production

FAO strengthens the livelihoods and resilience of conflict-affected Syrian farmers

Key Facts

Seven years into the crisis, the food security situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. The conflict has induced extensive destruction and degradation of productive assets and livelihoods, while also exhausting the capacities of households to cope. The United Nations (UN) estimates that, in 2017, seven million people in Syria will be food insecure with a further two million at risk of food insecurity. Almost half of Syria’s population was forced to leave their homes, often multiple times, resulting in 6.3 million internally displaced people and some 5 million refugees.

FAO together with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) worked to restore the capacity of 61 523 farming households to produce cereals by providing each family with technical training on good cereal production practices and 200 kilograms of quality seeds. 

Even though one-third of the Syrian population now depends on humanitarian food assistance, there are still substantive parts of the country where farmers are able to produce and supply food to the market. In these places, it is essential to support this production and the associated livelihoods of millions of rural families. Supporting agricultural production helps alleviate the scarcity of basic food commodities and reduces dependency on imports and food aid.

FAO worked closely with local actors to identify vulnerable farmers who, despite having access to land, had lost their harvest due to ongoing insecurity, harsh weather conditions or who had been unable to access quality seeds in the first place. FAO’s assistance spanned the course of the 2014/2015 and the 2015/2016 planting seasons. In total, thanks to the partnership with DFID, FAO supported 49 258 farming households to produce 98 516 tonnes of wheat and 12 265 households to produce 11 038 tonnes of barley. The total quantity of wheat harvested is enough to ensure that more than half million people have enough cereal to eat for one year and have a reserve of wheat seed for replanting. The surplus also generates additional income for their households.

DFID’s generous 2014-2016 donation of USD 17.4 million is an investment in self-sufficiency. Using the seeds bought with this donation, Syrian farmers made a total of USD 29.5 million (about USD 590 per household). This is almost 59 percent more than the original investment.

Providing training to extend the benefits of assistance 
As an integral part of its assistance, FAO provides technical knowledge and know-how to beneficiaries through tailored trainings. FAO has trained farmers on good agricultural practices in cereal production such as soil management, plant protection, fertilization with special focus on organic fertilizers that can be produced using local resources, weeding, control of wheat rust, use of crop residues, post-harvest handling, as well as storage and marketing practices. The training helps farmers make the most of their harvest by minimizing their losses, in addition to reinforcing a skill set which extends well beyond one agricultural season.

FAO’s support, alongside other types of agricultural assistance such as vegetable production, animal health solutions, integrated water management, alternative sources of energy, rural employment, nutrition education and technical trainings, is continuing to build the resilience of Syrian cereal farmers and their communities. FAO believes that it is essential to provide timely support to Syrian families to help them continue their farming practices and food production during the on-going crisis.

Throughout the crisis, FAO has also continued providing reliable data on the agricultural sector through regular assessments, such as the Crop and Food Security Analysis Mission (CFSAM), Damage and Needs assessment and value chain analysis. This information is crucial to understanding the impact of conflict on agricultural production and food security. The collected data is also necessary to properly scope and implement efficient humanitarian responses. FAO’s work, both within Syria and in the region, helps farmers maintain their assets and re-stablish their livelihoods, helping to stabilize the area and rebuild communities.

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