Some 53 farmers from six countries exchanged experiences and knowledge through story telling during the Farmers’ Conference held at ICARDA Headquarters in Aleppo, 4-8 May. The conference was supported by the Knowledge Sharing Project of ICT-KM.
Farmers from Syria, Algeria, Iran, Jordan, Egypt and Eritrea attended the first Farmer’s Conference organized by the Barley Research Program of the BIGM.
At the inaugural ceremony of the conference, Dr Salvatore Ceccarelli, a Consultant with the Barley Research Program, welcomed the participants. He said that the Farmer’s Conference, the first of its kind to be organized, has been organized as a joint activity among different partners. The objective of the conference is to bring farmers from different countries together to share their experiences and learn from each other. It is also an opportunity for the farmers to visit a research center like ICARDA, he said.
Dr Kamel Shideed, Director SEPR, welcomed the participants on behalf of the Director General. He described the conference as a great opportunity for the farmers as well as the researchers. The conference will help farmers and scientists exchange knowledge and experiences. Apart from these benefits, this meeting will expand regional integration and he hoped that the bilateral interaction will continue beyond the conference.
Ms Mariam Rahmanian from CENESTA, a non governmental organization based in Iran, said that it is a ground breaking conference. “The conference establishes that ICARDA takes farmers seriously and gives them importance in its research activities. Some of the farmers would not have seen a research center and the conference gives them an opportunity to visit an international center and interact with scientists,” she said.
Dr Adnan Al Yassin, Director of the Dry Land Research Program of National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE), Jordan thanked ICARDA for organizing the conference. He said that Jordanian farmers involved in the participatory plant breeding program and attending the conference would benefit from sharing their experiences with farmers from other countries in the dry areas.
Dr Mahmoud Solh, Director General, met the participants during one of the sessions and heard their experiences about participatory plant breeding.
During the next four days the participants visited ICARDA facilities and farmer’s field in Souran, about 100 km South of ICARDA where they interacted with local farmers. Each day the farmers had sessions devoted to story telling, which gave them an opportunity to narrate their own experiences and learn from other farmers.
Dr Stefania Grando, Principal Barley Breeder, said the conference achieved its objectives of collecting and consolidating farmers’ knowledge, which will help scientists in better targeting their research to address farmers’ needs. Also, the conference was successful in establishing linkages between national level networks of barley farmers in these six countries.
The participatory barley breeding program was first implemented in Syria in 1997 and the model and concepts were gradually applied in other countries.