The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations supports rural households to strengthen their resilience through the production of eco-friendly alternative sources of energy and organic fertilizers

from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Published on 11 Jul 2017

Damascus, 11 July 2017: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with support from the European Union (EU), is assisting 60 rural households in five governorates to produce biogas and organic fertilizers through the establishment of biogas units.

The biogas digester is an eco-friendly technology that biologically transforms organic materials such as agricultural residues and animal wastes, in the absence of air into gas, primarily used for cooking and heating. Additionally, the by-product could be used as organic fertilizers that have no negative impact on environment and human health and increase crop production.

Particularly in times of crisis, where the staggering increase of fuel prices due to the inflation and transportation costs are negatively affecting the capacity of vulnerable farmers to continue producing and remain in their lands, such sustainable and low cost technology contributes greatly to strengthen farmers’ resilience.

A field mission composed by the FAO Representative ad interim, Mr. Adam Yao, and his technical team, and the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mr. AbdulKarim Al-Lahham, the Head of the International Cooperation, Mr. Haitham Haidar, and technical experts from MAAR directorates of agriculture, has visited eight households in Tartous and Lattakia governorates to assess the implementation status of biogas digesters and their impact on the livelihoods of the selected beneficiaries.

Sustainable source of energy and clean fertilizers

Abdul Latif Hammi, a father of three children living in As-safsafeh, Tartous Governorate, said: “I was very excited to receive one of the biogas units in my yard; this technology has made a positive impact on our life! before that, I used to struggle to purchase enough fuel to meet my family’s needs, and I had no money left to purchase fertilizers for my small plot of land, thus my production was very low, barely enough for self-consumption. Now, thanks to the biogas digester, I am producing enough gas for heating and cooking and organic fertilizers to increase vegetable and olives production. In one month, I used to spend SYP 9000 for fuel only, equivalent to approximately USD 18; now with the savings that I am able to set aside, I am also thinking of buying two more cows and sell the surplus of gas and safe fertilizers to the community and I made the best use of my cows manure! This is a very big change in the life of my family.”

Sleiman Khalil, a small holder and a grandfather of 17 grandchildren, said: “The introduction of the Biogas unit in my land has made a huge impact on my production system; it does not only provide me with a sustainable source of energy and fertilizers, it has also contributed to reduce plant diseases which were caused by the untreated manure I used to fertilize the land. Now, the organic fertilizers produced by the biogas digester has helped me to increase production and maintain a clean environment for my grandchildren.”

Abu Antar’s Dream is to Make his Small farm a Model of Self-reliance.

Abu Antar, a 0,5 ha landowner in Tartous Governorate devoted primarily to vegetable production, expressed satisfaction about the newly installed biogas digester which he regarded as an essential tool to support his ambition, by saying: “I am no longer obliged to depend on market availability of fuel, nor on expensive chemical fertilizers. Rather, I am now capable to produce my own energy for my own facilities, fertilize my land through organic manure, and to operate my own milk-processing unit. Moreover, the savings generated will be invested to expand my farm and sell the surplus of production.”

Abu Antar is also planning to start chicken breeding using local breeds, as advised by FAO experts, which would contribute to ensuring a balance diet for his family.

“This model of self-reliance will be further studied, improved and replicated.” Stated by Mr. Yao.

Mr. Yao also reiterated that FAO aims at strengthening the resilience of crisis-affected people and their host communities in Syria for food and nutrition security by implementing locally acceptable and sustainable agriculture solutions that ensure stable sources of income and food and nutrition security.

“Everything that has been implemented through this intervention has been produced by the knowledge and capabilities of the Syrian people.” added Mr. Yao.

The Biogas units proposed under this FAO and EU intervention are locally manufactured. People in the surrounding areas of the project have already shown interest in testing this technology in their own lands, thus generating a demand for this locally produced facilities that will create new jobs opportunities. FAO is glad to see that the full cycle of resilience building would thus be completed.

It is worth to mention the FAO stresses the importance of promoting the use of eco-friendly/sustainable and alternative source of energy and organic fertilizers to increase the vulnerable households’ farms’ productivity and improve their food and nutrition security. Additionally, it will also contribute to environmental conservation by reducing the negative practice of deforestation and contribute to carbon sequestration.