The Qatari initiative to support and assist the Syrian farmers by offering $15 million to the National Coalition to facilitate the purchase of Syrian wheat has exposed the Coalition’s greed and lack of responsibility toward its workers and farmers.
As soon as the $15 million arrived from Qatar to the National Coalition, plans started to change and even institutional changes took place: the National Coalition assigned the task to the Assistant Coordination Unit (ACU) instead of the Grain Corporation (GC), which is responsible for trading grains. Moreover, a brand-new institution is being planned to manage the task, while GC’s 50 employees are at risk of losing their jobs.
GC sources confirmed that they purchased 36,000 tons of dry and wet wheat from Aleppo, Idleb, Daraa, and Homs during the 2014-5 seasons despite dwindling funds. The GC also brought in 12,500 tons of wheat for bread baking to Aleppo, Idleb, and Daraa with its funds.
However, the GC’s diminishing funds and its fruitless efforts to gain support and funding from the countries known as “friends of the Syrian people” forced the organization to suspend its activities in August.
After two years of the GC’s truthful and honest dealing with Syrian farmers, the farmers trusted the organization while most organizations sought to exploit their sufferings.
The GC then conceptualized an integrated project to sell the wheat harvested in 2015 to Qatar via the National Coalition and the Interim Government.
The GC sources warned of possible delays in the purchase of wheat from farmers after a seasonal rainfall that may have damaged the crops. They also warned of the possibility that the farmers may smuggle their crops to neighboring countries or sell them to the Syrian regime because the regime has raised the offered prices in order to attract farmers from the liberated areas and deprive rebels of the crops.
News about ongoing preparations to establish a new GC and to dismiss all employees at the existing GC has complicated the situation.
Some argue that dismantling the existing GC would leave its employees without support in a difficult time and that the establishment of a new GC may deplete all the funds that could be paid for buying crops.
The GC had planned to buy 50,000 tons of wheat from this season from the liberated areas and sent a request accordingly to the Interim Ministry of Finance on April 8, 2015; however, the ministry failed to respond and no crops were purchased.
The GC pledged to respond to all inquiries regarding the details of mechanisms to implement the project, control the records, and supervise the project for good implementation.
The GC explained that the proposed quantity for purchase would not cover the entire wheat produced in the liberated areas, covering only 10 percent of the demand in those areas. GC also explained that the organization requires additional funds to be able to buy the grain from the 2015 season, whose amount is estimated at 474,855 tons.