AKF is enabling smallholder farmers to build resilience by protecting, sustaining and reestablishing their livelihoods through new arrangements for pistachio, olive and dairy production. Olive orchards require less water than cereal and vegetable crops and AKF facilitated the creation of the first private olive growers association in Syria. Technical assistance is improving cropping practices in barley, wheat, vetch, pistachio and olives. AKF is also promoting new technologies such as hydroponic and aquaponic systems, through demonstration plots.
AKF introduced improved feeding rations and weaning techniques to complement a long-term local strategy to introduce new breeds and breed stock for sheep. The Foundation promoted best practices in biosecurity measures, disease surveillance systems and extension services in order to reduce high mortality within the poultry sector. AKF also operated a private fee-for-service veterinary diagnostic laboratory, the first of its kind in Syria, and the first to be licensed with the national animal health directorate.
For some years, AKF focused on water management, working with farmers and local communities to develop more water-efficient methods of agricultural production. This included:
- facilitating access to new and improved irrigation technology;
- bridging the gap between national research centres and small farmers in the delivery of drought-tolerant barley and wheat seed;
- demonstrating the importance and benefit of water harvesting techniques; and
- initiating research on optimal cropping patterns that maximise production (and revenue) per unit of water used.
From 2003 to 2009, AKF disbursed more than 100 group and some individual loans to finance the purchase of modernised irrigation infrastructure. These loans were provided through the involvement of AKDN’s First Microfinance Institution, with 98 percent of all loans being repaid in the first season.