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Syrian Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform and FAO join hands to support returnee farmers in Zabadani by resuming fruit trees plantation

FAO and MAAR planting the first fruit tree sapling to announce resuming the production activities in Zabadani.

19 October 2017, Zabadani, Rif Dimashq - Hundreds of farmers have gathered in Al Zabadani, Rif Dimashq, to honor World Food Day, celebrated every year in over 150 countries to promote awareness and call for action to support and eradicate hunger and malnutrition in the world. This year, World Food Day focuses on addressing migration through investing in agriculture production, food security and rural development.

The event was chaired by the Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform (MAAR), H.E Ahmed Al Qadiri and the FAO Representative ad interim, Adam Yao, and was attended by high-level government officials and representatives of the local community.

“People are forced to migrate for several reasons, such as conflicts, political instability, extreme poverty, hunger, environmental degradation and the impacts of climate change.  In these situations, people have no choice other than to move in search for better living opportunities and safer places for themselves and their families,” said Yao during the celebration.

“Celebrating WFD reflects FAO mandate and objectives to support people to resume their production activities and become food secure. And today we are here in Zabadani to give a helping hand to its people to produce their own food to ensure their food and nutrition security and stay on their lands where security permits,” added Yao.

Al Qadiri and Yao joined hands with local farmers and started the plantation of saplings of 75  of the 1,000 pear and apple trees provided by FAO under one of its technical cooperation programmes, to mark the resumption of production activities in Zabadani, after years of social and economic disruption due to the crisis.

Despite the still too visible wounds all around the city, the burned fields and rubbles of destroyed buildings, the farmers of Zabadani are eager to resume their lives and re-start with their production activities.

Globally there are now around 64 million people forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution, the highest number since the Second World War.

Due to the crisis in Syria, there are 6.3 million people internally displaced and over 5 million people who migrated to search for alternative living opportunities elsewhere. Today, food production is facing many challenges, and more than 9 million people are food insecure in Syria, a country that had reached self-sufficiency prior to the crisis.  

“Since 2011, FAO in collaboration with MAAR and other partners has supported 2.9 million Syrians to resume their production activities and to remain in their lands. Today we are standing side by side with the local community in Zabadani to ensure that this community and many others in Syria are supported to become resilient against food and nutrition insecurity and can provide a better future for themselves and their children in their own country,” stated Yao.

As the situation evolves and migrants are preparing to return, it is assumed that a large portion of the returnees would settle in rural areas.

FAO, jointly with MAAR and other partners, is developing a comprehensive programme to support returnees, whenever the conditions are met, in order for farmers and their families to resume their farming activities and improve their food and nutrition security.


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