Helping returnees in Hama and Daraa improve cultivation

Over the past two years, more than 66 000 rural families were forced to leave their homes, villages and their abundant agricultural lands in North Hama due to devastating military operations which prevented farmers from practicing their main livelihood activity. The displacement left them vulnerable and unable to earn the income needed to cover their daily essentials.

From September 2019, the improvement in the security situation has allowed displaced farmers to return to their homes and land, carrying their hopes of resuming crop production activities. However, the break in production meant they urgently needed to find good quality seed and agriculture inputs if they were to go ahead with cultivation.

The difficult situation has affected Areej Shabaan, a 28-year-old pregnant woman, and her blind husband, Mohammed Shahoud, trying to produce food to gain income and raise their 2-year-old son, and the daughter they are expecting shortly. “We are glad that we are finally home. Nothing is as more precious as home. I’d come back to my house and land even if it was destroyed, no matter what!” Said Mohammed. “Despite our gratitude for being home, we could not find good seed to plant our land. We rely on seed if we are to produce grain to harvest and sell in the local market, this is our only way to survive,” he added.

The Humanitarian Needs Overview 2019 Report for Syria has stated more than 9 million people in Syria are food insecure, or at risk of food insecurity. Appeals for humanitarian assistance to improve the food security and nutrition situation of the most vulnerable people in Syria were met by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – FAO – with the generous support of Kuwait – to provide farmers with quality agriculture inputs and training on best agriculture practice.

The 2019 Kuwait-funded activity has allocated wheat seed grants to 5 500 vulnerable farming households and wild fire-affected farmers in Hama and Daraa Governorates, and will provide more than 33 000 people with the wherewithal to support themselves. During his visit to a seed distribution point in Al Hamra district – Hama Governorate, Mike Robson, FAO Representative in the Syrian Arab Republic, underlined the importance of the Kuwait contribution to the humanitarian response plan for Syria in targeting the most vulnerable farmers to help boost their food security and get back to crop production.

“The FAO-Kuwait project targets returnee farmers, as well as those affected by wildfires in June 2019. Both groups had urgent need of seed to be able to restart farming, and avoid having to rely on food aid assistance. In addition, the project will reach 2,000 vulnerable farmers with assorted vegetable kits, and support improved availability of fodder in Al-Badia for up-to 10,000 vulnerable herders through nurseries rehabilitation,” added Robson.

Despite Mohammed’s disability, Areej and her husband are working together to make their children’s future safer and brighter. Like other farmers, as they planted their wheat seed today – the recommended planting period for the district – they shared their hopes of harvesting around 200 kgs of wheat per dunum to be able to sell, and begin to restore their livelihoods, after the traumas they have experienced in recent years,

It is worth to highlighting the important partnership between FAO and Kuwait to help Syrian farmers and herders recover, and boost their food security and nutrition. The initial contribution of $3 million will benefit more than 17 000 highly vulnerable people and their extended families in Syria. The partnership also has ambitions to fight hunger and malnutrition, and come to the aid of disaster-stricken communities across the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region and beyond, in countries such as Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria.

Source : Fao