GIEWS Country Brief: Syrian Arab Republic 07-April-2015

News and Press Release
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  • Despite overall favourable weather conditions, agricultural season is affected by ongoing conflict

  • Prolonged conflict has severely impacted on country’s food security situation especially for vulnerable groups

  • Millions of people, both internally displaced and refugees in neighbouring countries require continued assistance

Favourable weather conditions for the 2015 cereal crop

Planting of 2015 winter wheat and barley crops, to be harvested from May 2015, was completed in January. Abundant moisture during the sowing stage was conducive to seed establishment but delayed soil preparation and planting was reported in some areas.

Cumulative precipitation in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, and Hama that were severely affected by drought in 2014, so far exceeded that of last year as well as the long-term average (1989-2012). Cumulative precipitation in Hassakeh province (which normally accounts for over 35 percent of the Syrian Arab Republic’s total area planted to wheat and barley) was similar to the long-term average. The vegetation response captured by the satellite-based Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) suggests a good vegetation condition.

The ongoing conflict and lack of inputs (such as improved seeds, fertilizer and fuel), damage to agricultural machinery, irrigation systems and storage facilities together with disruptions in electricity supplies continue to seriously hamper agricultural production.

For the 2014/15 cropping season, Government subsidized seed distributions were made only to farmers who had paid back at least 5 percent of their previous debt. In addition, farmers opting for seeds from the General Organization for Seed Multiplication (GOSM) are obliged to settle 25 percent of the cost in advance while the remaining 75 percent is supported by the Agricultural Credit Bank until the harvest and are required to market their harvest via Government centres only. Reports indicate that GOSM distributed about 13 percent of the country’s estimated requirements, at 60-70 percent of the cost price. Before the crisis, the Government used to distribute around 200 000 tonnes, about 80 percent of the country’s requirements of seeds. The rest was supplied by farmers using their own seeds, particularly in rainfed areas.

The fertilizer factory (in Homs) remains operational but only at a fraction of its capacity.

Assuming continuing favourable climatic development, a recovery of cereal production is expected compared to the drought-stricken harvest of 2014. However, given the impact of conflict and lack of essential inputs production may only recover slightly.