A Kongra Star women’s agricultural project supported by Water for Rojava (W4R) covering 400 hectares between 9 villages close to Derik. The are growing tomato, cucumber, pepper, lettuce, aubergine, parsley, peas, garlic, sunflower, okra. They plant first in greenhouses then transfer seedlings to the land. There are two historic wells from the Regime times with good water, though the land is very flat and dry. They have new pumping mechanisms for these, as well as two different kinds of irrigation system.
W4R funded construction of a warehouse and in 2021 they planted wheat. There was a little rain and it survived, and although it was not perfect, they were able to cover the costs. They will plant again in 2022, whatever the weather. Five women workers are now living in some houses built as part of the project. Six families are living in the village and also have free accommodation. This goes up during harvest times as some families also come to live and work in the village and then go back to their own village the rest of the time.
The project is very big now, it is growing. There are currently two wells working, but now 11 villages are relying on this area. There are two more wells which are abandoned which they are now trying to bring back into use. People from these 11 villages buy the produce of Jîyan, which is cheaper than market prices. After the harvest the villages can also use the waste product of the wheat for their animals and so they save money and benefit from this.
There are mainly financial issues for generators, tractors, wells. There is no rain. At the moment 10-11 villages benefit from this project, but the aim is to keep growing this project to double or triple the number of villages to also benefit. The project covers 400 hectares, but they can’t use it all due to low capacity.
Below you can find the original project proposal description by Aboriya Jin:
“We are from the Administration of Women’s Economy in North East Syria, which was established in 2015. We have opened some opportunities for women to manage projects, which will help them to self-actualise, prove their efficiency, and make decisions about the economy without being dependent on men. These projects will give them some privacy; mothers can work and raise their children and become self-reliant in managing the economy of their household. These opportunities will help them enhance their intellectual and practical life, and offer them leading positions in projects that benefit society.
Since the Women’s Economy was established, we have set up many projects in commerce, trade, industry, agriculture and livestock. We are establishing co-operatives as we believe they should be the foundation of all these projects. The Women’s Economy wanted to expand the agricultural projects so that other projects can partner with them. The agricultural projects have been very successful despite the circumstances of war that they are now facing.
We are now setting up an agricultural project in Derik, as well as some other projects. We have carried out a lot of studies in order to found a village that will become the ideal village for the communal economy, and it will be run by women – especially women with a limited income, and who have experience in agriculture. We have started digging in search of water sources on 4,000 decares of land, from which 200 decares will be used for this project, and the rest for agriculture. We are exploring whether there is enough water capacity to support agriculture. It is very difficult to get water out of the ground. Because we want to be ecologically ethical, we want to take care of the environment and minimise pollution.
The women in this village will plant trees and build schools for their children. They will also keep livestock and participate in projects like preserving fruit and vegetables harvested from the land, as well as cheese and yogurt products from the livestock. We want to secure a good life for the women who will live in this village. There are thirteen women running this project. Now we are digging and looking for water. As soon as we are able to secure an electric generator, we will begin by planting 2,000 fruit trees next spring. Tree planting is going to be one of our main priorities. We will also build houses in an egalitarian manner. We will put plans in place for the future; produce new varieties of vegetables that haven’t been planted before, and develop a better agricultural mentality among women, celebrating the communal economy and the value of equality; living together, co-existing and exploring ways to do that so that we can avoid the capitalist mentality. We will try to enhance the market for local products and create opportunities for many families to participate. We have started communicating these ideas to people of the region, and we are already developing the project.”