Cotton production has declined sharply in Syria to just 5,000 tons, out of a planned 400,000 tons — a terrifying shortfall in cotton cultivation and an unjustifiable blunder in dealing with this essential Syrian sector, which produced more than a million tons five years ago.
The Agriculture Ministry had planned during the current year to plant 108,000 hectares of cotton crop in all Syrian provinces, which was estimated to produce about 400,000 tons of seed cotton.
The general manager for the institute responsible for ginning and marketing the cotton, Zaher al-Atal, said that the amounts of the cotton crop that had been marketed up until last Thursday reached 650 tons, in a time when the production amount for this season was supposed to be 400,000 tons.
He added: “The agriculture minister notified us before the start of the market season that the produced amount would not exceed 50,000 tons. As a result of this situation, the institute contracted suppliers in accordance with the tender to supply domestic cotton from Hassakeh and Raqqa, whereby the supplier buys cotton from the province and ships it to a central area. It gave the price according to this tender at 333 pounds per kg from Raqqa and 375 pounds from Hassakeh, however, no amounts have been supplied from Hassakeh yet.”
He continued: “We learned that the supplier had bought amounts of cotton and gathered them in Hassakeh, however none of it has been transported to the central area as was agreed upon in the contract. In Raqqa the amount which the contractor supplied to the central region was 253 tons, which is only about 10 cars worth. From Hama it was 275 tons and from Aleppo it was 85 tons.”
Regarding the status of the ginning mills, Atal said for the first time cotton had been received in Aleppo, as the Tishreen mill had been activated, which was one of the most important mills in Syria. Its power reaches 700 tons daily of seed cotton and in Aleppo it is only being received in this mill. In Hama the Al-Fadaa mill has been established to receive cotton in the central region.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.