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March 21, 2019

5 Short Courses turning Syrian Youth into Agronomists

Before the conflict, the agricultural sector accounted for 18% of Syria’s GDP, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. However, since 2015 the number of food insecure people inside Syria has reached 8.7 million. For those refugees residing in the countries surrounding Syria, being able to afford enough food to feed the family is also a concern for many people.

With 3.3 million Syrians registered with the UNHCR, Turkey has become the largest host nation in the region. Most of the Syrians under temporary protection (SuTP) living in Turkey are from traditionally rural backgrounds, who made their living by farming and animal rearing. Similarly, south and eastern Turkey is a region rich in fertile soil, so employment opportunities in the agricultural and livestock sector are abundant.

Agronomists in the making
In order to bridge the gap between local agribusiness in need of skilled employees and Syrian youth in need of work, SPARK and Harran University in Şanlıurfa, launched Short Agronomy Courses. In Şanlıurfa alone, the population of SuTPs is now 22% of the whole city. Therefore, the courses are aimed at young Syrians between 18-24 years, and are between 2-9 months long. So far, 860 Syrian students have been supported in becoming fully qualified agronomists.

The courses, made possible by Al Fakhoora, QUEST and the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), bring students up to scratch with the latest techniques and technology in dairy production, greenhouses, chicken breeding, mushroom production and reproduction of local seeds. Students received theoretical training at two of Harran University’s huge campuses, surrounded by rolling brown and green hills where the young people could put their skills to the test.

1. Dairy Production

With milk being regularly produced by the small university farm, Harran students in the production facility have access to the whole milk fermentation process. Heads donned with nets and hands in rubber gloves, they learn the necessary steps, temperature and hygiene controls to produce yoghurt, ayran and cheese.