“It’s somewhat intense” says Andrew who rises at 4 AM each Tuesday to meet the time zone challenges. “Still, this is the most flexible way we can imagine to meet the emerging needs of the trainees as we gather examples and innovations in small-scale, labor intensive regenerative farming from world-wide sources.”
Andrew continues, “Small-scale farmers have been suffering as they try to keep up with the economic challenges of a country in conflict, as well as fend-off the incursions of agro-chemical interests who seek to convince farmers that a regenerative approach is not viable. Our job is to inspire confidence amongst the advisors and extension agents and provide them with case-studies showing just what micro-farming, based on bio-intensive methods and water retention landscapes, can do. In turn our trainees will guide their farmer clients in this direction.”
At this point organic agriculture makes up only 2% of all farming in the country; and Regenerative Agriculture, less than 1 % of organic. Through this project, Dr. M Mazen, head of the Organic Farming Division, is seeking to open the critical extension services to less conventional external innovations (such as permaculture, ecosystem restoration camps, indigenous knowledge). From the UNDP side, Nadia Attar, Program Associate of the Rural Development Division of the in-country UNDP, visions establishing a combined Ecosystem Restoration Camp and Permaculture Network for the development of appropriate consultancy and design services.