Mike Robson, the Syria representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) confirmed that this year’s national wheat crop fell by about 75%. Robson attributed the decline to several causes, including irregular rainfall patterns over the past two seasons.
“Syria’s wheat crop in 2022 was about one million tonnes, down about 75 percent from pre-crisis volumes,” Robson said, according to Reuters. “Barley crops were almost non-existent.”
Syria’s changing weather conditions have imposed harsh economic stresses on farmers, along with the burdens imposed on the Syrian government. “The meagre crop adds more pressure on the Syrian government, which is affected by sanctions, while also struggling to secure wheat from the international market,” the FAO said. The FAO noted that, although food products are not subject to Western sanctions, banking restrictions and asset freezes have made it difficult for most commercial banks to deal with Syria.
“Climate change is not easy anywhere, but it is double as hard in a place like Syria, which faces high inflation, lack of energy access, a lack of quality inputs, and security challenges that continue to beset parts of the country,” Robson said. He noted that about 70% of Syria’s wheat crop depends on rainfall captured by war-affected irrigation.
“The delay in rainfall led to farmers delaying farming and not being able to prepare their land in a timely manner, and then the rains ended early, by March,” Robson said.
Weather isn’t the only reason
The FAO report noted other factors impacting the low wheat crop, including the Syrian pound’s devaluation, which has led to a rise in the prices of fertilizers, seeds, and high-quality fuel needed to power water pumps. The report noted that the productivity of one hectare of wheat grown in irrigated land should be about three to four tons; currently, however, it stands at only about two — due to farmers struggling with the lack of agricultural inputs.
Syria has been able to produce about 4-5 million tons of barley feed annually for domestic livestock. This year, however, many farmers are struggling to make ends meet.
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.