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Young Syrians empowered with knowledge on digital agriculture

09/05/2022

FAO, through its Smallholder Support Programme, has introduced digital agriculture to Syrians to promote innovation and digitalization. In March 2022, a group of young people from seven governorates across the country completed FAO’s specialized training on the use of technology and entrepreneurship in agriculture. The Organization teamed up with the Junior Chamber International–Damascus to strengthen youth involvement in the digital transformation of agriculture with the aim to improve food production practices. 

“Digital Agriculture is a form of innovation to ease agricultural production processes and practices with accuracy and efficiency,” said Alfredo Impiglia, FAO Chief Technical Advisor in Syria. “FAO is committed to the development of smart solutions for the agriculture sector, and digital agriculture is one of these solutions.” 

Sixty people, out of the hundreds who attended a series of online awareness sessions, qualified to participate in an intensive training camp that focused on digital agriculture, design thinking, proposal development and presentation skills. People who had a background in farming, agricultural studies and information technology were selected to participate, and the training enabled them to formulate project proposals that integrated information and communication technology with agriculture. Twelve innovative business proposals were selected by a panel of experts to be presented at the final event, and the panel then awarded the top three proposals. Mr Impiglia stated that “all of the proposals represent youth’s motivation to come up with innovative solutions that can improve Syria’s agriculture.” 

The first place award went to “The Shepherd,” an automated system for managing sheep production that identifies the health status of animals by measuring body temperature and changes in weight. The system would also use sensors and automatic gateways to direct sick animals into isolation, protecting the health of the herd. The second place went to “Smart Farms,” a vertical farm in a climate-controlled environment to produce wheat and to fast-track scientific experimentation through speed breeding. Finally, the third place was awarded to “My Farm,” an e-market mobile application and website that enables farmers to sell their products directly to consumers and retailers.

“The training has really helped me with knowledge of digital agriculture, presentation skills and project proposal writing. The trainers have also helped a lot by explaining the essence of what this training is about, and how to successfully run a project in a simple and approachable manner,” said Esraa Jaddaa, a participant who helped formulate “The Shepherd” project proposal.

Yamen Jabbour, a member of the “Smart Farms” team, expressed his confidence that his project will have a significant positive impact: “The goal of our proposal is to increase the efficiency of production units to produce large amounts of different crops all season long.”

FAO is committed to driving entrepreneurship and innovation in Syria’s agriculture sector. In addition to the training, a rich web platform with multimedia content on digital agriculture has been produced. It includes a series of videos, and content is in Arabic, which is particularly useful as little content has been previously available in the language. The website will act as a go-to-guide for young agri-preneurs looking to learn from their peers’ experience as well as the global movement towards digitization and innovation within the agriculture and livestock sectors. 

 

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