The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (Maeci) and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (Maib) have introduced an innovation in Syria that stabilizes subsoil water, increases production and cuts down costs.
The project plans for the development to take place over two phases. The first involves the introduction of a new, sustainable irrigation system (with the unfortunate acronym of ISIS, which in this case stands for Improved Surface Irrigation System) that is easily used and adapted to different types of crops. A method for calculating the water used in the fields, reducing the soil salinity and rationalizing the use of fertilizers is also developed. Another invention is a new type of machine that makes it possible to sow and furrow (in other words, to create the furrows where the seeds are placed) in a single step, saving a great deal of time.
The second phase aims at rationalizing the natural resources by using new techniques for harvesting rain water, creating farmer associations and an alarm system for possible bacteria in the crops.
The implementation of this program was complicated by the cautious attitude of the 4 thousand Syrian farmers, combined with the outbreak of the civil war. But with only two years to go before the end of the first phase, the data are showing that the water level in the aquifer is no longer diminishing, thereby blocking the formation of new swallow holes in the land. The amount of water saved for irrigation is 30 million cubic metres, equivalent to 35% compared to traditional farming methods. Records show that the farmers' income has increased by 45%, crop yields have improved (+45% in grains) and costs have come down (-42% in energy). Even though the second phase couldn't be completed because of the start of the war, the project has already been exported and replicated in other countries.