The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every sector. Agriculture has also taken a hit. Farmers and farm owners have to continue their activities in the face of various restrictions and changes and learn new ways of doing business. And more than ever before they need support ranging from subsidies to inputs to new skills.
They need to learn how to stay efficient and operational while protecting themselves and the people they work with. This is also true of everyone working in the food supply chains.
To continue providing capacity development support to farmers and other stakeholders under the new circumstances, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) has started offering training courses online.
For example, under the Water Innovation Technologies (WIT) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), scientists and their partners from other organizations, including Mercy Corps, conducted three online training courses attended by more than 80 participants from Jordan between April and June 2020. The participants included representatives of suppliers of irrigation tools and fertilizers, government agencies, extension services, civil society associations, as well as field technical managers, private consultants, and field coordinators.
The main goal of the courses, which were delivered on 1 and 7 April and 24 June 2020 via video conferencing, was to improve participants' technical skills and share with them agricultural practices and guidance on how to ensure on-farm precautionary measures in view of Covid-19, as well as methods to conduct on-farm water audits and approaches to encouraging more farmers to adopt water-saving technologies.
The courses helped to enhance participants’ knowledge about average water requirements of olives, stone fruits, grapes, pomegranates, date palms and forages such as alfalfa. Suppliers learnt techniques to design more effective irrigation systems to ensure consistent operation during the peak season of water demand for each crop and implement optimized and automated layouts to manage water for different purposes at the farm level.
As part of the project, ICBA has been working with Mercy Corps, Jordan River Foundation, the Royal Scientific Society, and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) to help sustainably increase water conservation on farms in Mafraq Governorate and Azraq district of Zarqa Governorate, Jordan. Through addressing constraints in the adoption of innovative water-saving technologies for agriculture and household use, the project aims to help save about 18.5 million cubic meters of water by 2022. ICBA works closely with local partners to ensure that the project results in water savings without undermining the quality and yield of crops.
The project helped several farmers to reduce water consumption on their farms and associated costs by introducing water-efficient technologies. This was achieved by building the capacity of suppliers and service providers to deliver customized solutions to farmers to save energy required for pumping and water for irrigation.