FAO in Syria

FAO provides a climate smart technology to improve agricultural production in Eastern Ghouta

FAO/Nedal Abdulla

A well-levelled land is important for farmers in rural areas as it makes irrigation easier, faster, and more efficient since water can reach every part of the field evenly with minimum waste. According to FAO Syria technical experts, land levelling is an essential climate-smart agricultural practice before sowing.  Uneven land makes it harder for water to be absorbed evenly.  Traditional land levelling has often proved to be ineffective and wasted labour for farmers: “When we try to even the land surface using traditional land levelling, this can result in the creation of small water ponds, which prevents the crops from absorbing water equally, and has a negative impact on production quality and quantity.” - Yousef Al-Khatib, a farmer from Eastern Ghouta, Rural Damascus.

To promote climate-adaptive methods, FAO, with the support of the Adaptation Fund, has supported the maintenance, assembly and calibration of two Laser Land Levelling Units (LLL), as well as performing laser levelling for 200 ha of land in Eastern Ghouta, Rural Damascus. The advantages of using this technology are various: with less use of fuel and energy to pump irrigation water the LLL will contribute to reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) in the long-run. The technology will also improve food security and income for farmers and people due to improved production, as well as saving resources, mainly water, by ensuring even coverage and less time for irrigation processes.  

FAO’s water specialist, Janet Al Kanani, explained the principle of LLLU operation: “The land is scanned by a laser device to guide the unit for levelling, where the soil is removed from higher to lower places in an automated process, thus levelling the land while keeping a simple slope to enable uniformity of water distribution in the field,”

Al Kanani states that the technical staff responsible for operating the unit have received a training to operate and conduct maintenance of the units: “This technology saves time, money and human effort making agriculture more sustainable and climate adaptive.” She adds.

“Farmers in Syria are used to traditional irrigation methods that need enormous water quantities, which may result in a considerable yield variability at the field level due to partial water logging. The LLL unit will increase agricultural productivity and income, build resilience to climate change, lower irrigation time and contribute to the mitigation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions as less time spent on irrigation means less energy spent on irrigation,” Said Amer Jnedan, FAO’s National Project Manager of the Adaptation Fund Project.

For information dissemination purposes on LLL to farmers, FAO along with the UNHABITAT, specialists from the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform and representatives of the General Commission for Scientific Agricultural Research, conducted a field awareness session to familiarize them with the benefits of using laser levelling on irrigated land and the proper operation of the unit.

“This machine will save me time, money and energy,” said Ayman Mahayni, a farmer from Zebdin, Eastern Ghouta “It will benefit my family as I will be able to increase our farming productivity. Producing more means a better life and future for my sons and daughters.”