La résilience
Syrian youth present business projects with the support of the European Union. ©FAO

Syrian youth present business projects with the support of the European Union


Under its Smallholder Support Programme funded by the European Union, FAO has inspired young farmers and influenced them to become more profit-oriented through its entrepreneurial training programme called Nabta. In Aleppo Governorate, 502 people participated in the first phase of the programme. Of them, 152 were selected to join the second phase of the training programme (project management phase) in which unique small-scale business proposals were developed by the participants who were willing to transform their ideas into action with the assistance of FAO. 

Hussein Al-Mosa, a young man from Fajdan Village in Aleppo who holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering, observed that water scarcity and poor soil conditions are the main reasons that agriculture is not profitable in his village. With the goal to become a successful agri-preneur, Hussein enrolled in the Nabta programme  to extend his entrepreneurial ventures and start his own business.

The business ideation workshops guided Hussein to develop an innovative project proposal to establish a manufacturing unit for organic fertilizers by recycling plant residue. With the scarcity of fertilizer on the market and its high cost, Hussein’s business idea has strong potential. Building such a business could be turning point in his life and could employ people from his village. In addition, it would benefit the community, as plant residue would be transformed into organic fertilizer rather than being burned, which is the traditional practice in the country. “I have always had this thought in my head, that something must be done to improve the soil conditions. Nabta has supported me in gaining the knowledge and skills needed to run an agricultural business,” said Hussein.

Another interesting idea that arose during came from Huda Jomaa, an independent, hardworking and ambitious single mother who became the only breadwinner for her two children after losing her husband. Huda wants to market soymilk as a food product, as it is good source of nutrition. Her parents worked in dairy production, which led her to become interested in processing milk and cheese. Huda said, “Before I got married, I used to help my mother with milk and cheese processing by using traditional methods.” After receiving training and guidance through the Nabta programme, Huda presented her project proposal, entitled “Lifetime venture.” Her proposal focused on producing vegan milk by introducing soymilk to those who might be lactose intolerant. This new product would provide people in her area with access to healthier processed milk, butter, and cheese (shillel), made with nutritious ingredients such as soybeans. She said, “I first tried it with my kids, they loved the cheese’s flavor!”

Amnah Al Mosa, who is also from Fajdan village, is a 26-year-old student of agricultural engineering. She learned how to translate her ideas into actions: “It was during the first phase of the training (brainstorming phase) when my idea sparked into my head,” said Amnah cheerfully. Her project is based on hydroponic planting technique using water enriched with minerals as an alternative medium to grow plants. Utilizing this technique a farmer can produce vegetables early and off-season. Amnah was driven to start this project as she is aware that the prices of off-season vegetable is quite high, in addition, it will help her to generate a better income, enhance her self-confidence and improve her family living standard.

In Aleppo, Nabta has motivated farmers and unemployed youth to initiate their own ventures. The training sessions that involved demonstrations and experience sharing have inspired many young farmers, especially women, to improve their living conditions by engaging in the agriculture sector