Idleb, the Green Province, Offers Attractive Pay to Willing Farm Workers

Harvesting crops on Idleb's lush farmland offers lucrative financial incentives for those struggling to make ends meet, agricultural workers tell Iqtissad

Agricultural seasons in both summer and winter provide temporary, but often abundant, employment opportunities for many Syrians.

Idleb, which is known as Syria’s green province, is no exception to this rule, as the harvest of this summer season secured the livelihood of hundreds of families in the area.

Ahmad works in harvesting cumin. It was not the aromatic smell that was Ahmad's attraction to this crop, but the reward of pay he would receive for working for hours harvesting this plant.

The 20-year-old was unable to stand up at work because the length of the cumin plant grows only a few centimeters. He wore no gloves while he pulled the crop out with his bare hands, despite the plant’s thorns.

"I was not doing anything before the harvest, so when I was offered this work I immediately agreed," Ahmad told Iqtissad.

Ahmad receives 300 Syrian pounds for every hour of hard work. "There are other plants, such as jilbans and lentils, where we get a higher price, not less than 400 pounds per hour," he said, adding that wages for working with these plants are rising due to their difficulty in harvesting.

Ahmad works in towns near the city of Idleb, and the price he receives is average, according to him.

He says the wages he is paid are average, but in more remote areas workers' wages decline.

Abou Nihad, a 50-year-old man, had to work in the harvest in the Idleb town of Mastoma.

He told Iqtissad: "The wages here are low, they give us 200 pounds per working hour regardless of the crop type."

The area where Abou Nihad works is not well irrigated because of the lack of wells in its land. "There is a shortage of plantations and abundant labor manpower, so wages are falling," he said.

In contrast, farmers told Iqtissad that wages are rising in some towns such as Saraqib.

Ibrahim, a young man in his 30s from the city of Idleb, tried to find work in Saraqib harvesting cumin and lentils. "I learned that they pay at least 400 Syrian pounds per hour, so I try to work in those areas," he told Iqtissad. But his attempts have been unsuccessful because he doesn't know landowners and farmers in the area.

Ibrahim and his fellow workers labor in the fields from 6-11 a.m., and from 3-7 p.m.

He said that this is the first time they have worked as farmers, but that they are sharing good work that will bring them a solid income at the end of the season.

This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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