Driven by his passion for farming, Yasser, a 71-year-old farmer from Sweida, begins each day early, tending to his home farm, where he has successfully transformed steep, barren land into fertile terraces for cultivating a variety of vegetables. Yasser inherited his deep love for the land and farming from his father, and he has been practising this cherished craft since childhood. “My land is the most precious thing I have. It is part of my heritage and will hopefully be my legacy one day,” said Yasser.
For over 40 years, Yasser carefully selected the seeds of mountain tomatoes, choosing the best shape, taste, and pest resistance and saving the seeds for the next planting season. While his farm was once solely abundant with grape vines, he later introduced a diverse array of summer and winter vegetables, olive and almond trees, enriching the agricultural tapestry of his land.
Recognizing the significance of sustainable agriculture, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) introduced regenerative agriculture to vulnerable small farmers in Aleppo, Lattakia, Tartous, Damascus, Rural Damascus, Qunaitra and Sweida. Regenerative agriculture mimics the processes found in natural ecosystems, which ultimately enhances soil fertility and promotes efficient and sustainable water usage. Yasser is one of 170 farmers who have greatly benefited from this initiative.
He actively participated in the training sessions organized by the programme on regenerative agriculture, where he acquired knowledge about sustainable and climate-smart farming practices, focusing on enhancing soil fertility and managing water resources effectively.
Yasser takes immense pride in the positive impact that these new techniques have had on his farming experience. They have deepened his understanding of the nutritional needs of plants and soil.
“The application of compost has significantly improved soil fertility and the overall health of my crops. Vegetables now thrive. They are growing faster and stronger. Their resilience to drought conditions has noticeably increased,” exclaimed Yasser with an infectious smile.
Assisting Yasser on his farm are his wife, three children, and occasionally his three grandchildren. One of his sons, deeply inspired by his father’s passion for farming, pursued a career as an agricultural engineer. “We frequently exchange tips and insights. I benefit from his knowledge, and he gains from my experience,” said Yasser, referring to his son. He passionately encourages everyone in his community to embrace these new methods and techniques, particularly after witnessing the tangible benefits of increased productivity and reduced costs.
Thanks to UNDP’s regenerative agriculture project, farmers like Yasser can now implement sustainable and efficient practices, leading to a positive environmental impact and fostering prosperous communities in the long run.