Farmers in Syria’s Aleppo Hold Government Responsible For Wheat Crop Loss

Low rainfall and higher temperatures combined with government neglect are destroying wheat crops in Syria, writes North Press.

The wheat crop of Hamid al-Ahmad, a farmer from al-Tarfawi village, south of Aleppo, was not good. The 200-acre-land produced only 300 bags (about 33 tons).

Ahmad believes that this season has been the worst in years due to several reasons which contributed to a decrease in production in the southern countryside of Aleppo.

More than 90 percent of the lands in southern Aleppo are rainfed — a type of farming that relies on rainfall for water — especially those cultivated with cereal.

“This year’s crop is damaged and could not cover even the cultivation expenses that we paid,” Ahmad said. 

In the past, every 200 cultivated acres of wheat used to produce between 800 and 1,000 bags, according to farmers.

Climate change, accompanied by high temperatures and lack of rain, especially during April, has caused great damage to many rainfed crops, especially wheat.

“We are losers”

According to the farmer, though the government’s price to buy wheat crops is reasonable, it covers only a part of the expenses. 

“The problem lies in the low production. If we take into consideration the cultivation expenses including fuel, workers’ wages, cultivation machines, fertilizers, except for farmers’ efforts, we will find out that we are losers,” Ahmad stated.  

In March, the Syrian government set the price of buying wheat from the farmers at 900 Syrian pounds per kilo.

Though Mahmoud al-Mousa, a farmer from the town of Banan al-His, south of Aleppo, has an artesian well, he did not manage to water his wheat-cultivated land because of the increasing price of fuel that exceeded 2,500 pounds.

“Although I applied several demands in the Agriculture Advisory to provide me with subsidized fuel at 180 pounds for each liter, I received only 100 liters that could not operate the tractor for three days,” Mousa noted.

“Mere words”

Mousa, who owns 15 acres, along with other farmers, relied on rainfed cultivation as “we did not even receive sufficient amounts of fertilizers.”

Meanwhile, the farmers hold the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform responsible for the low production of this season “as officials’ promises were mere words,” according to them.

Relying on the government’s promises to support farmers and provide them with fuel, fertilizers, and necessary supplies to succeed the “Wheat Year” plan, Muhammad Obaid al-Ali, a farmer from the village of Assan and member of the Union of the Peasants in the southern countryside of Aleppo, has cultivated more than 35,000 acres with wheat.

However, with the beginning of harvesting time, Ali found out that the production was low, with each acre producing between 20 and 30 bags.

Ali believes that the government should support next year’s wheat crop and secure cultivation supplies, especially fertilizers and fuel to avoid losses.

It is noteworthy that the Syrian government called this current agricultural season a “Wheat Year.”

The Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, Hassan Qatna, said the government will receive 300,000 tons of wheat after he had earlier expected that the year’s production would be about 1.5 million tons.

Qatna linked the “miscalculation” to the climate and drought of this season, which led to the decline in the rainfed wheat and barley crops.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned, in a report, that the cereal harvest in Syria this year will be less than average for several reasons, the most important of which is the drought that hit Syria’s northeast and the high costs of agricultural production.

 “According to 2020 statistics, about 12,4 million people in Syria are suffering from food insecurity,” according to the FAO.

 

This article was 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.

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