Roskilde May 2015
These projects are intended to contribute to the reconstruction of organic farming and production in the Kurdish liberated areas around Kobane in northern Syria.
Purpose: In cooperation with the district authorities, build and develop an organic farming school in Kobane that will be run by the district. Via the activities of this agricultural college the district will promote its agricultural policy objectives, including assistance to and development of cooperatives / farmer-owned and collective modes of operation; this will also include the integration of land use in social construction and development, through cooperation between farmers and agricultural college authorities. The intention is also to promote and develop agricultural production in the area, using the most modern and efficient methods; to contribute to the switching of Kobane’s farming to organic farming; to contribute to the construction and development of the necessary agricultural technology and equipment; to promote the education of newly established young farmers in the area, and possibly to transform older established farms via the use of modern organic farming methods and animal husbandry. In the long term, the projects will contribute to the development of a comprehensive agricultural professional advisory function necessary for the building and operation of cooperative / shared forms of agriculture in the local area.
Perspective: This first agricultural college, will likely be a model to inspire the building and development of other agricultural schools in the Kurdish liberated areas.
Method: Start a dialogue with the appropriate Kurdish authorities in the area around Kobane on the need for agricultural initiatives that are most relevant in the current situation focused on the need for reconstruction. Send a small delegation of organic farming professionals from Denmark, in the relevant agricultural areas nearby Kobane, along with agricultural professionals from the Kurdish authorities and local farmers. This will be achieved on a thorough agricultural professional basis, with study of soil conditions, weather and climate, in particular regarding rainfall and season variations that influence crop choices and traditional animal husbandry. It will also include an assessment of the current mechanical/technological level and of people’s agricultural experience, knowledge and culture, in order to determine what kind of help and forms of development are most appropriate. It will be especially important to know about animal husbandry as it is traditionally practiced as a kind of nomadic grazing in the wild and about soil and climate conditions.
This study will results in the development of a plan and calendar for the creation of the various elements that will make up the agriculture school. It is doubtful whether all elements of the planned development of the required breadth and depth of teaching can be established from the start. It will thus be necessary to work with the Kurdish authorities / Reconstruction Board of Kobane in order to priorities which of the options as described can be implemented in the different stages, in conjunction with the available funding.
The work in the first phase, after the visit from Denmark, will consists of the description and creation of the necessary financing sources, as well as the building of the necessary relationships between the appropriate Danish actors and authorities and the Kurdish authorities as well as local agricultural organisations / individuals.
The project aims to contribute to the development of the following:
1. The physical setting / school building for teaching a number of agricultural students on the basis of, for example, six-month installments, as well as likely shorter specific “developmental courses” for older established farmers, of a duration of 3-5 days or 1-2 weeks, once the authorities have been able to assign the necessary temporary workers in order to accomplish the farmer’s tasks for the duration of the course.
2. Building of a small-scale machine facility at the school. Purchase a suitable number of the most important agricultural machinery and equipments, to be made available for rental to farms located in the area. The facilities will include a small-scale repair shop for the maintenance of the school’s agricultural machinery, equipment, and buildings.
3. Setting-up stables for different livestock breeds. The stall will have direct access to an appropriate area of open space.
4 Purchasing an appropriate number of animals for practical educational use.
5. Establishing a small slaughterhouse school and dairy school.
6. Starting-up an appropriate number of experimental fields.
7. Developing teaching materials in animal husbandry, agricultural engineering, mechanical engineering, versatile and effective organic methods, as necessary; in the development and management of farmer-based / cooperative farming types – promoting democracy and cooperation between authorities and agriculture.
8. Recruiting of an adequate number of teachers and training them in animal husbandry, mechanical engineering, versatile and effective organic methods, as necessary. Also training them in the development and management of farmer-based / cooperative farming types – promoting democracy and cooperation between authorities and agriculture.
9. Finding an appropriate number of young students for extended stays, as well as older established farmers for shorter assignments.
10. The school in cooperation with local authorities and local farmers located in the area can facilitate the start of rational organic farming throughout the area, as an essential element of reconstruction and development in the Kurdish areas; it can also strengthen the building and development of agricultural cooperatives, cooperative dairy / slaughterhouses and collective cooperation between agriculture and the authorities.
In connection with the operation of the school, establishing an exchange program with the “organic agricultural college located at Kalø” in Denmark; the exchange programme will be both for students and for the start-up or development of new initiatives.
Point 1: buildings
In cooperation with the authorities in the area, plans for an appropriate building will be prepared so that, either through renovation or conversion, it meets the needs of the intended student population. It would also be useful to consider the possibility of a future expansion of the facilities. Electricity supply could be at a later date based on renewable energy, through a special project for the installation of photo-voltaic panels. The school should also be able to host a number of young farmers.
Point 2: agricultural equipment
Set up a small agricultural machine shop with a number of small tractors and other ’ecologically suitable’ tools for the operation of the school’s land. Use of machines and tools will be included in the education of both students and the established farmers. It might also be possible to rent machines for use in fields, located outside the school areas so that organic food production can be initiated as part of the recovery plans. This would allow the school could to become a focal point for the necessary mechanization of agriculture at a realistic level. In connection with the machine shop, build a small workshop where students by maintaining the acquired machinery and tools will acquire maintenance skills. The workshop could be headed by a trained mechanic / blacksmith with knowledge of agricultural machinery; it could also offer courses in welding, engine and diesel systems maintenance for both young students and established farmers.
Point 3: stables
Stables will be established for the purpose of both teaching and raising animals. It will be important to have at least some of the proposed stables and animal husbandry facilities operational when the school starts, since manure is a necessary input for nutrients to be used in the school’s organic fields. If the organic fields are not tilled with the slowly degradable organic fertilizer, they will quickly become unproductive. As much as possible under the circumstances, the stable’s floors are to be built with concrete, in order to reduce the loss of nutrients and to increase the possibility of collecting the necessary nutrients for field operations. A storing area with a concrete floor will also be very important so that organic material from all parts of the school and other agricultural areas can be mixed together with animal dung. A collecting tank for the cattle stable will be also very useful. If this is done, it will at some point in the future be possible to establish a small biogas plant to produce both electricity and heat out of animal dung and to improve the ecological fertilization of the school fields. Depending on the school’s development and future size, the energy produced will cover some or all of the school’s own consumption and may also contribute to heating some of the local houses.
Point 4: animals
The first decision will be to establish the types of breeds and the number of animals for each. This will of course be according to funding, but our recommendation is to have a sufficient number of animals of each breed in order for the school production to be profitable via sales to the local community. The education can thus be partially funded from direct revenues. The calculation of the number of animals must also take into account the need to create the necessary nutrients for organic agriculture.
Proposal for animals:
A) Chickens: we must consider the breeds best suited to the production of eggs and with good hatching characteristics best suited for the production of chickens. This is so that the school can teach both egg and chicken production. The flooring of the chickens house should be resistant to dejections and easy to clean.
B) Goats: Goats must be considered for both milk and meat production. It is worth considering the purchase of 50 goats for organic meat production and of one Billy-goat for breeding. As the school expands it should consider the purchase of 20 dairy goats to produce cheese and yogurt.
C) The cattle breeds should meet the requirements for milk and meat production. Start with five meat producing cows. It will also be necessary to either buy or have access to a bull according to available funding. Later, it will be possible to purchase dairy cows in order to extend yogurt and cheese production.
Point 5: butchery / dairy
Establishment of a small school slaughterhouse for slaughtering the school’s own animals and for training in butchery skills, hygiene and animal welfare. The carcasses will be sold to local butchers, and with later developments a butcher shop might be established on school premises, requiring the set-up of a cold room.
A small dairy will also be established for the purpose of processing cow’s and goat’s milk. It will require a cooling system. This could be an opportunity to start developing skills in cooling technology.
Point 6: fields
Clearance of an adequate number of fields of specified size, so the school can produce the required amount of organic feed for both summer and winter feeding. It must therefore be determined which crops can be produced in the area.
It is very important to have grass containing nitrogen fixer (N2) of one sort or another. The best approach would be to start a number of clover pastures which can be fenced and used for direct grazing. Their size will be calculated based on past experience and data about the potential grass production, and in relation to the intended number of animals (goats / cattle).
Other clover pastures, to be used for the production of hay for winter feeding must also be developed. The clover grass fields must not be either fertilized or sprayed as converting to organic practices starts from the seeding. Following Danish organic regulations, such fields will become organic as of the 3rd season. Their space requirements will be calculated based on the needed grass production and on the annual number of deletions (harvests of hay). When these clover pastures have produced hay in a season (1-2-3 deletions) it will be time for a ’green winter’. The following year will be for the production of protein feed for animals. The new crop will be fertilized organically by using the remains of the clover pasture.
Other fields will be established and seeded with the protein feed best suited to local needs (cereals, corn or others) and most suitable for cultivation. The fields will have to be fertilized in some way in the first season, they do not necessarily need to be sprayed; the control of weeds will be done mechanically or by hand, and if it is possible to provide animal manures for plowing before the actual sowing, the fields will be organic. Otherwise organic production will start in year two
The above is according to Danish regulation for organic fields; we do not know at the moment whether the Kobane area has any organic certification process. But in fact it might be relevant to use the organic approach since the purchase of fertilizers and pesticides is so expansive and difficult.
It will also be important to look into the field production of vegetables such as peas that are an important of N2 source, and study whether there are local N2-fixer vegetables or fruit trees that could be grown to produce fruit juice, using nutrients from chicken manure, and would also provide shade and shelter, all depending on the school’s ambition level.
In subsequent years, the school will be able to alternate between the use of green manure from spring plowing in clover grass fields to vegetable fields and plowing of animal manures from their living quarters, to fields that do not have any growing after the clover year.
In any case, it should first be verified whether the soil and climatic reasons will allow the cultivation of clover or whether it might be better to replace it by alfalfa which is more drought tolerant due to its deep root system.
Point 7: training materials
In cooperation with Kalø Organic Agricultural College’s international program, as well as with university-educated agricultural experts people from the Kurdish region and with agricultural production specialists from the Kobane district , it will be necessary to create a sub-project for the development of educational materials in Kurdish. These materials should cover all aspects of the agriculture knowledge needed by the school in order to teach and to offer locally adapted practical guidance.
Point 8: teachers
While the selected first group of students gets busy builidng the school, it will be important to establish a sub-project of introduction to and training in the development of teaching materials. In cooperation with the local Kurdish authorities responsible for the designation of the future teachers, the project will organise a study tour to “Kalø organic agricultural college” in Denmark. The visiting teachers will become involved in the development of teaching materials and will attend sessions in organic cultivation principles and soil chemistry. They will also visit a number of Danish organic farms. It might also be possible to set-up up a permanent agricultural technical “hotline” between Kobane and Kalø organic agricultural college so that that teachers benefit from future techniques.
Point 9: students
It will be necessary to select a number of students who can attend the training program of (xx weeks) on site at “Kalø Organic Agricultural College”.
The project’s various stages.
1) The first stage should investigate and state the current level of food production in the area of the Kobane district and describe the immediate needs in terms of agriculture and machines, as well as the democratic organization of agriculture that should be prioritised first. This first project should therefore be shared and developed in cooperation between different actors in the organic farming organizations (Organic Denmark) and schools in Denmark (Kalø Organic Agricultural) as well as with Kurdish solidarity organizations in Denmark and the Kurdish areas and Reconstruction Board of Kobane. As part of this process a small farming academic delegation from Denmark will travel to Kobane in cooperation with the authorities and the Reconstruction Board. Once the project is defined the search for funding and other activities will be initiated. The process for developing suitable teaching materials will be also be initiated between the Kurdish authorities and the Kalø organic agricultural college and Organic Denmark.
2) The Kurdish authorities in Kobane and the Reconstruction Board of will select an appropriate number of students, teachers, local farmers / artisans for the building project, and local authorities will select a suitable site for the school and a date for the first construction / renovation activity to begin.
Students attending the school will be actively involved in building, maintaining and expanding the facilities and also in creating ’local ownership’ and commitment to the school’s operations and development in the local area, between the community and the school . At the same time, the students will also acquire the necessary structural and maintenance competencies they will need when work on the district upcoming agricultural cooperatives actually begins. A portion of the cost of students education will be covered through students and teachers participation in construction and contributions to the school development. The first group of students will therefore be activated at the beginning of the construction period. The second group might also be involved in similar activities, depending on the school’s economy. This might consist of small-scale and combined construction / maintenance projects integrated in the education. It might also be necessary to create an international “building brigade” to help with the first relatively large construction project consisting of classrooms, stables and other buildings. The period during which the school is being built would also be a good time to send a delegation of teachers (for example two teams with half of the teachers each time) to attend the training program at Kalo Organic Agricultural School in Denmark, and to participate in visits to a number of small organic farms in Denmark.
3) When the first part of the school is completed and teachers are trained to use the developed teaching materials it will be possible to begin the education of students and to actually sow the first fields, to prepare for the selected livestock. At the same time it will be necessary to launch three international solidarity campaigns to raise funds for the purchase of animals and field preparation:
a) Give 10 hens and a rooster to Kobane
b) Give a goat to Kobane
c) Give a ¼ cow to Kobane
Such fund raising could follow the concept developed by Folke Church Aid’s for solidarity gifts, see link: https://giv-en-ged.noedhjaelp.dk/giv-en-ged?utm_source=google-cpc-ged&utm_medium=google-cpc-ged&utm_campaign=google-cpc-ged
Objective for chickens: the first 20 hens established at the school, will lay and hatch eggs. The next 10 hens will establish breeding and chicken production. The next installment of 10 hens and a rooster can then be given with instructions on organic poultry and be kept by local citizens or small farmers that have helped in the building of the scholl. The campaign will then be running.
Objectives for goats:
The first 20 goats will be raised at the school for educational purposes and meat production. The next groups of 10 or 20 goats will be raised by small cooperative farms in the local area according to methods of organic breeding; this will be decided by democratic decision between the school and the local authorities. Further developments will follow. The school may, for example, choose to create herds of up to 30, 40, or70 goats in order to promote the collective development of larger-scale organic goat meat production, and to improve the school’s financial standing.
Objectives for cows:
The first five cows will be raised at the school for educational purposes and meat production. The next 2, 4 or 6 cows given, willl also be raised by small agricultural cooperatives as stated in the above paragraph.
Once the beef cattle production is in place, the school may, at a later stage decide to extend the stable capacity and promote further teaching followed by the development of a dairy cattle herd and a “Small scale” dairy capacity.
4) Since the school is to be designed as an inspiration and co-developer of the local cooperative agricultural structures in the region, it couls also, along with the training of new young and established farmers also consider a project to promote the development of an an agricultural professional advisory function. That function could focus on the construction and operation of cooperative / cooperative based / collective farming forms in the local area.
Gradually, as the school develops a material infrastructure (buildings, stables, livestock species and the like) and the teaching is set in place, it could select a few of the students who will use their agricultural skills and theory to become professional advisers. Through the provision of further training and exchanges with the Kalø Organic Agricultural School, as well as Danish or international universities, various farming academic lines and skills could be developed. This would make it possible for the authorities to develop an advisory practice for the agricultural sector in the areas it administers..
5) Kobane’s organic agricultural college could thus be the first district center for education, construction and development of a cooperative organic farming sector and thereby form the basis for building other centers in other Kurdish liberated areas.
Establish a Danish-Kurdish voluntary solidarity agricultural group; it will be responsible for the development of the organic cooperative agricultural school project as described, with the Reconstruction Board of Kobane, and other institutions.
Grants for the daily operation: decide on the feasibility of creating an investment account with the Merkur network or other ethical banks where possible. Merkur principles will be applied for the establishment of the organic agricultural college in Kobane. Launch a collection via “Operation Day” for school construction. For animals, use the model of international campaign such as the “Give a Goat” concept, as developed by the danish Folke church relief. For school and housing construction seek Danida U-country funds, international reconstruction funds, and international “Crowd funding” methods.
Organic Denmark, Roskilde Technical School organic livestock training “Vilvorde”, Kalø Organic Agricultural Colleg, Andelskassen Merkur, Danida, IBIS, Kurdish authorities in Kobane, Kurdish immigrant associations in Denmark, left wing partys, Enhedslisten, Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke, Operation day’s work, International solidarity organizations, Reconstruction Board of Kobane and others.
Store Valbyvej 85
Tel .: (0045) 71 78 46 65
Outline proposals of fields and buildings around 5 ha.