The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), under its Smallholder Support Programme (SSP), will support vulnerable small-scale livestock keepers with an integrated intervention to help improve their livelihoods. FAO is supporting an artificial insemination project -- initially for 15 000 cows, benefiting more than 5 000 families in Deir Ez-Zor, Al-Hassakeh and Aleppo governorates, and 30 percent of the beneficiaries are women-headed households.
Despite the many challenges related to the ongoing economic crisis in Syria and the current COVID-19 pandemic, FAO has been able to secure 30 000 imported semen straws that have high a genetic value for the insemination programme.
"The artificial insemination component of the SSP project -- to produce high genetic value calves and cows - is integrated with a feeding support programme. The pandemic combined with movement and transportation restrictions have caused high prices and limited feed availability; this integrated approach to feeding and breeding will make a significant contribution to improving livestock production in the targeted areas," said Alfredo Impiglia, Coordinator of the FAO Smallholder Support Programme. "The main objective of this component is to enhance the profit of the vulnerable small-herders' cattle, improving milk production quality and quantity that is linked to milk processing. This will increase the income and improve the livelihoods of small producers".
Helping develop the Syrian livestock sector
The project will revitalize the livestock sector on a long-term basis through enhancing the dairy production for cows, improving growth rates for calves, and preventing transmission of diseases among cattle.
"The artificial insemination of cattle, is one of the quickest ways to control, implement and increase the production of livestock,'' said Siraj Raya, FAO Syria Livestock Officer. "Cattle breeders will be able to stabilize their livelihoods, based on improved pregnancy rate and increased quantity of milk among the offspring of the cows as a result of the carefully planned breeding programme," Siraj added.
Core technical training for veterinarians
Technical skill shortages have emerged in Syria during the past nine years. Livestock specialists and veterinarians are among the many skilled experts who were displaced or who left the country altogether due to concerns over safety and security. The SSP also provides core technical and refresher training to more than 150 veterinarians who are involved in the artificial insemination project. The theoretical and practical training topics focus on anatomy, nutrition, physiology, and methods to increase success rates of artificial insemination.