Food & Agriculture
During a recent meeting in Beirut, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq’s agriculture ministers agreed to boost agricultural cooperation and discussed the prospects of establishing a joint company to market agricultural products from each country.
Low water levels are straining Syria’s agricultural sector and forcing Syrians to face rising prices and water-borne diseases as the country endures a severe and long-term drought, according to various reports and statements.
The government has taken measures to revive the sugar beet industry for the 2021-22 season, incentivising farmers to harvest and relaunching a state-owned sugar factory that suspended refining operations for nearly seven years.
The government increased the price at which it buys cotton and tobacco from local farmers by up to 67 percent per tonne.
The WFP has indicated that the prices of food and non-food items in Syria increased significantly in March as a result of Ukraine’s unfolding crisis and the conflict’s repercussions on global food and energy markets.
The Autonomous Administration in North and East Syria announced that it will purchase wheat from local farmers at a price 91 percent higher than last year and 5 percent higher than that of the Syrian government.
The government is increasing the price at which it will buy wheat from local farmers by 40 percent year-on-year, as fears of wheat shortages loom large in view of acute climate conditions and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
India is reportedly planning to donate thousands of tonnes of wheat and rice to Syria in order to relieve its chronic food shortages.
Israel has recently launched this year’s state-funded agricultural support programme which offers free land and funds to Israeli farmers in exchange for cultivating land and living in the occupied Golan Heights and Galilee. The Israeli government is also facilitating a renewable energy project that is slated to be built on land owned by native Syrians.
On January 12, a high-ranking government delegation visited the coastal cities of Lattakia and Tartous to offer government support to discontented citrus farmers whose harvests have been severely impacted by the economic and climatic crises, as well as government policies.
Last year, the Syrian government’s wheat imports more than doubled while its procurements of domestic wheat dropped by 48 percent on a year-on-year basis amid severe shortages across the country. Meanwhile, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria recently announced plans to import wheat to meet local demand.
Although the security situation is the best it has been since the start of the conflict, the agricultural sector in Syria suffers from unfavourable infrastructural, economic, and climatic conditions, according to a 94-page report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
The Syrian government is arranging to import hundreds of cows from Iran, according to the Damascus Chamber of Agriculture. The plan further confirms shortages in the country, whose livestock sector was self-sufficient prior to the conflict.
The government has recently adopted two measures that aim to strengthen the position of the state-owned Syrian Trading Establishment at the expense of private sector traders.
The opposition-affiliated Syria Recovery Trust Fund has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme for the first time, announcing a joint project to support the rehabilitation of a pumping station and related channels in Raqqa.
The government has contracted a local company to rebuild and operate a yeast factory in Rural Damascus after it was completely destroyed during the decade-long conflict.
Earlier this month, the government increased fertiliser prices for the third time this year. The increased costs for farmers threaten to worsen food inflation.
In light of the significant decline in local agricultural production, the Syrian government and the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) have further increased the prices they will pay for wheat and cotton in an attempt to incentivise farmers to sell them their harvests.
The Kurdish-led autonomous administration of northeastern Syria has offered cotton farmers a six-fold increase in the price it is willing to pay for their crop.
The Syrian government will permit imports of ginned cotton for a period of six months, confirming shortages of a commodity that represents the backbone of the country’s once-thriving textile industry.