New land, new opportunities

A Syrian city worker turned refugee learns farming techniques in Turkey


Yunus Yunus was working as a finance manager at a textile company in Syria when conflict drove him to leave his homeland. Yunus, 54, his wife and their six children have lived in Turkey for five years.

“Even though it's hard to leave my country and integrate with a new community, it’s still better than living under bombs and without safety,” Yunus says.

Turkey hosts more Syrian refugees than any other country. Turkey also needs skilled and semi-skilled labourers in the agricultural sector, especially in livestock production, greenhouse cultivation, and the harvesting and processing of various crops (olives, cotton, pistachio and citrus and stone fruits).

FAO has provided agricultural training to Yunus as part of a larger initiative to build the resilience of Syrian refugees and their host communities in Turkey.

Yunus was unemployed, with no prior experience in agriculture practices when he was included in the FAO program. The difficult but delicate work of harvesting crops like olives, grapes pistachios, and pepper was all new to him after his office job in a big city.

FAO agricultural training to Syrian refugees, like Yunus, and to host communities in Turkey is part of a larger initiative aimed at building resilience. ©Robin Hammond/NOOR for FAO

“FAO’s vocational training consisted of two parts: theoretical and practical. The theoretical part covered lectures on methods of planting, harvesting, storage and maintaining the field. For the practical side, we were taken to the field to see how the planting was done and how to look after each crop. I learned many things.” 

Yunus was impressed by the variety of information needed to ready crops for harvest. 

“We also learned about how to look after grape vines and protect them from insects and weeds, how to look after the roots to see if there are weeds or insects affecting them, the distance between trees in the fields and the quality of land.”

Yunus, his wife and their six children have lived in Turkey for five years. ©Robin Hammond/NOOR for FAO

“When local farmers found out that we had taken the agriculture training course with FAO they were willing to employ us.” 

Yunus’ challenges include unplanned expenses and providing adequate care for two disabled children. But he has been able to cover university fees for his oldest son, and word-of-mouth among Turkish employers about his newly acquired skills has led to more work for Yunus. 

“For me food is security and it means securing my children's future,” adds Yunus. 

By investing in resilience building for refugees, FAO is empowering them to take action and be a part of the global goal to achieve Zero Hunger.

Learn more:

2. Zero hunger, 8. Decent work and economic growth, 10. Reduced inequalities