New skills pay off: Syrian refugees harvest greenhouse vegetables in Turkey

fao-multeciThe Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) pilot project will train 150 refugees to grow vegetables in a newly established greenhouse next to the refugee camp, which hosts 15 000 people. After a “train the trainers” event was conducted, on-the-job training of refugees on greenhouse vegetable production has been held since late September. Trainees are gaining the new talents they need for skilled jobs in the agriculture sector, and the vegetable yield is being distributed free of charge throughout the refugee camp to improve nutrition and food security.

Within the 8 000-square-meter greenhouse, six trainers are supervised by Çukurova University professors Yıldız Daşgan and Nafi Baytorun, who are delivering on-the-job trainings for refugees on growing of eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. The majority of the trainees are women who say that this project gives them a valuable opportunity to learn new things, socialize, and boost their self-confidence. Additionally the compressed natural gas is used for the greenhouse heating, which is much greener technology and causes less carbon footprint compared to conventional greenhouses in which coal is used as fuel.

The Government of Turkey and İŞKUR, the Turkish Employment Agency, have been collaborating with FAO to create decent job opportunities for refugees in addition to strengthening the Turkish economy. Upon completion of their training, refugees will be awarded certifications from İŞKUR that show their new expertise in greenhouse vegetable production, boosting their employment opportunities.

The project is implemented in partnership with the Oilseed Crop Research Institute based in Osmaniye. In the future, the project can be upscaled and serve as a refugee camp management model in Turkey – and even widened to target refugees living elsewhere in Turkey.