Syria's agriculture affected by erratic weather and prolonged conflict

October, 2018

Extreme weather conditions during Syria's seventh year of conflict has caused domestic cereal production to decline sharply, two UN agencies announced on October 10.

Wheat production this year fell to a 29-year low of 1.2 million tons, about two-thirds of 2017 levels.

This was due to an extended period of dry weather early in the cropping season followed by heavy out-of-season rains, according to the latest Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM), conducted jointly by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The conflict in Syria has also damaged vast farming areas, displaced thousands of Syrian farmers and triggered a sharp increase in the cost of agricultural inputs.

While more displaced people are returning to their homes and the number of people in hard-to-reach locations has dropped by two-thirds, the report estimates that 5.5 million Syrians remain food insecure and require some form of food assistance, a decline of around 20 percent from the year before.

In addition, some 500,000 to 800,000 people in the northern governorate of Idleb may be food-insecure.

Adverse weather conditions led to only 38 percent of the wheat crop in rain-fed areas being harvested this year. Farmers have reported it as the worst agricultural season in living memory in Al-Hasakeh, the northeastern region that typically provides almost half of the country's wheat.

Barley, a more drought-tolerant crop, fared better but production still fell to its lowest level since 2008. According to the report - which is based on interviews and surveys as well as satellite and government data - farmers complained of sporadic water availability, the high cost of fuel to run irrigation pumps and a shortage of tillage equipment.

The report says that the next two years are crucial for rebuilding lives and livelihoods across the country.

Source: FAO