While conflict keeps affecting multiple aspects of Yemeni lives, some are keeping at efforts to build country’s agriculture. ‘Moving towards food security & sustainability’ was the title of a conference on agriculture held earlier this month in Yemen. SPARK organized this event, in collaboration with its local partners, to draw attention to the ongoing food crisis and encourage making use of local expertise. More than 135 academics, experts, engineers and researchers attended the conference at hotel Taj Saba in Sana’a.

Dr. Amira Qassem, a 42 year old teacher of human production in the faculty of Agriculture in Sana’a university was one of the guests. For her achieving a platform on which experts can exchange their knowledge was important. “I am here to share my years of experience in training with others and learn from consultants and experts in agriculture. I am sure this will benefit the agricultural sector in yemen” she said.

The conference included panel discussions and a workshop and served to bring expert organizations under one roof and encourage collaboration among them in order to solve agricultural challenges in Yemen.

Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, financial institutions, NGOs and INGOs in agricultural development, made the panel of experts. They kick started the event with sharing their success stories and life time expertise in the field and opened the floor for beneficiaries, businesses and guests to ask their questions, share their concerns and talk about their challenges.

Ahmed Al Hamiri, the under-secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, marked this event as an opportunity to take a helicopter view on the matter and thus come up with comprehensive solutions. “The ministry is participating in this event to highlight the important role of the government in the field of agriculture. We encourage collaboration among different organisations to steer the boat to the right direction.”

With a representative being present from each key organ of the agricultural sector, the event was the ideal setting to create groundbreaking solutions such as: focusing on sustainable food for which there is great demand such as honey, providing support to local agricultural businesses rather than bringing in relief, and establishing a cluster of organizations under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture so that every organisation commits to working with one another.

The event continued with a workshop on mentoring and implementing agricultural projects. It focused on rehabilitation of local experts and capacity building: a team of SPARK experts extensively interviewed candidates and those with a score above 70% qualified to be SPARK mentors. Then the mentors attended a three-day workshop to improve their mentoring skills and discuss methods of conveying information to the beneficiaries of projects.

Ahmed Abdel Malik,  from the Agricultural Cooperative Union, found it helpful that in the past few years SPARK has shown interest in the agricultural sector. He said: “This is yet another initiative to rehabilitate local experts. It invites everyone to participate in creating something extraordinary.”