Syrian agricultural production drops massively as conflict continues

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A man cleaning the olive crop in Syria – FAO

Twenty-two months of conflict have left Syria’s agricultural sector in tatters with cereal, fruit and vegetable production dropping for some by half and massive destruction of irrigation and other infrastructure, a UN mission has found.

Among other things, the mission found that wheat and barley production dropped to less than 2 million tonnes last year from 4 to 4.5 million tonnes in normal years.

Vegetable, fruit and olive production declined significantly in both Homs and Dara’a Governorates, including a 60 percent drop in vegetable production in Homs and a 40 percent drop in olive oil production in Dara’a.

The mission reported that only 45 percent of the farmers were able to fully harvest their cereal crops while 14 percent reported they could not harvest due to insecurity and lack of fuel. There is a lack of access to agricultural inputs including quality seeds and fertilizers and a lack of irrigation due to damage to main irrigation canals especially in Homs and lack of fuel for irrigation pumps.

Dominique Burgeon, Director of FAO‘s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division, who participated in the mission said “The mission was struck by the plight of the Syrian people whose capacity to cope is dramatically eroded by 22 months of crisis”.

He said “Destruction of infrastructure in all sectors is massive and it is clear that the longer the conflict will last, the longer it will take to rehabilitate it”.

Of the 10 million Syrians who live in rural areas – about 46 percent of the population – 80 percent derive their livelihoods from agriculture.

The mission, from 18 to 22 January, was coordinated with both the government and the opposition and visited several affected areas in Damascus as well as in the governorates of Homs and Dara’a. The mission team was composed of emergency directors from seven UN humanitarian agencies and led by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Donn Bobb, United Nations

Duration: 1’44″

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