Farmers in Syria, many of them women, are making efficient use of water to increase their tomato, peach, wheat, cotton and other harvests. A UNDP project, in cooperation with the government, has supplied farmers with sprinklers, drip irrigation equipment and training to expand use of modern irrigation techniques.
UNDP allocated $278,000 for the project and the Syrian government contributed $150,000 in cost-sharing funds and the equivalent of $150,000 in local currency for the revolving fund for irrigation equipment.
Farmers also learn to use treated wastewater—including agricultural drainage and sewerage—for irrigation. Agriculture consumes about 85 percent of Syria's available water, making it a priority sector for promoting more efficient water use.
"This project focuses on one of the most important targets of the government's water strategy," said Syrian Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform Nouriddin Mona. Farmers will benefit from increased farm production and income, he said. The project is also studying farmers' perceptions about using wastewater for irrigation and the impact on health, soils and groundwater.
"The initiative is in line with the government's plan to increase agricultural production in a sustainable manner and improve rural incomes and with the UNDP mandate to promote the sustainable use of natural resources and environmental conservation," said Taoufik Ben Amara, UNDP resident representative.
More than 100 technical staff at the Ministry of Agriculture and its subsidiary agencies have studied the use of treated waste water under the project. They in turn taught farmers to use the water with crops and the precautions needed. Representatives of the Peasants' Union participated in demonstrations and training, to encourage farmers to use the new techniques.
In Damascus and Aleppo governorates, 77 farmers have received sprinklers and drip irrigation equipment the project bought through a cost-sharing contribution from the Government. A revolving fund will enable more farmers to purchase equipment.
More than 700 farmers—half of them women—participated in fieldwork at 18 research sites and attended training courses and workshops. After each training session, farmers discussed their concerns and perceptions about using wastewater. Farmers in all governorates received and completed questionnaires on treated wastewater for analysis and reporting to national and local workshops. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )