Recent government decisions related to the prohibition of the importation of leafy greens — out of fear that cholera will spread further — have greatly impacted both farmers and traders. The decisions have led to the destruction of many crops, including parsley, watercress, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, mint, celandine, chard, and spinach.
Mohsen al-Bayadh, a cardamom trader, told Athr Press: “The prices of the leafy greens have fallen by 75 percent. A bag of parsley consisting of 30 bunches is sold today for 1,500 Syrian pounds; a bag of lettuce consisting of ten lettuces is sold today for 5,000 Syrian pounds.” Bayadh indicated that the lack of available profit primarily affected farmers, who are now destroying their leafy green crops or feeding them to animals due to financial loss.
In related news, the spread of cholera in several Syrian governorates has caused the Agriculture Directorate of Rural Damascus to destroy some crops being irrigated with untreated sewage water over a total area of 150 dunums (one dunam is equivalent to 1,000 square meters). The directorate also issued 20 violations against farmers for providing vegetables of different varieties with an unpleasant odour.
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The phenomenon of irrigation with wastewater is widespread in several areas of Damascus and its countryside (Al-Kiswa, Jdeidet Artouz, Al-Nabek, Kafr Sousa, Qatana, Al-Tal, and Al-Qutayfa). In those areas, farmers follow the same techniques as farmers in Ghouta do, watering their crops with sewage without the slightest sense of responsibility for people’s food and health safety.
Mohammed al-Akkad, a member of the committee of traders and exporters of vegetables and fruits in Damascus, confirmed in a statement to Athr Press that demand for leafy greens has decreased by 60 percent. This is because restaurants have stopped buying this product in response to the threat of closure if their business is found to have transmitted cholera.
Akkad indicated that most sales are made individually. One family does not need more than a bunch or two of parsley, while restaurants used to purchase large quantities. This development has led to a decrease in prices by about 80 percent for all types of leafy vegetables.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.