Syria

GIEWS Update: Syrian Arab Republic: National cereal balance 2020/21 marketing year (July/June)

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Situation Report
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Highlights:

  • 3⁄4 Favourable weather, coupled with improved security conditions, led to an upturn in cereal production in 2020.
  • 3⁄4 Despite a well above-average wheat harvest, after accounting for anticipated Government imports and food assistance, an uncovered gap between total availability and utilization is expected during the 2020/21 marketing year (July/June).
  • 3⁄4 Ample domestic production of barley is likely to be sufficient to cover domestic feed and seed needs in the 2020/21 marketing year (July/June).

Unlike in almost every year since 2013, the annual joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) in the Syrian Arab Republic was not conducted in 2020 due to COVID-19-related restrictions on international and internal travel. To fill at least some of the information gaps created by the absence of the annual report and to guide humanitarian programming, this note presents the national wheat and barley balance sheet for the 2020/21 marketing year (July/June), prepared on the basis of the available information as of November 2020.

In the past years, the wheat and barley cereal balance sheet was prepared by the CFSAM team upon completion of the work in the field. Parameters determining the balance sheet items, including the level of production and available stocks, the number of animals to determine feed needs, etc. were audited, triangulated, and in some cases, calibrated by the CFSAM team based on its direct observations in the country. For the 2020 exercise, production figures were taken directly from the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform (MAAR), without any possibility of verification in situ. Favourable weather conditions, coupled with improved security conditions, led to an upturn in cereal production. The 2020 cereal harvest is estimated at 5.2 million tonnes, over 20 percent more than in the previous year and about 77 percent above the five-year average. The harvest comprised about 2.8 million tonnes of wheat (an increase of 52 percent compared to the five-year average) and 2.3 million tonnes of barley (more than double the average).

The General Establishment for Cereal Processing and Trade (Hoboob) remains the exclusive institution in charge of purchasing locally produced wheat. For the 2019/20 agricultural season, the Government allocated SYP 450 billion for domestic wheat purchases (wheat harvested by June 2020). The 2020 purchasing price for first grade wheat was originally set at SYP 225/kg with a bonus of SYP 25 for delivery included. Given the sharp currency depreciation, in an effort to attract more farmers, in May 2020, the Government increased the 2020 Hoboob purchasing price to SYP 400/kg1 (equivalent to about USD 150/tonne using the exchange rate from June 2020). In the past, in order to sell to Hoboob, farmers had to purchase new hessian sacks and deliver them to the collection place. The purchasing price for the same grade in 2019 was SYP 185/kg, including a bonus of SYP 15/kg. In previous years, most grain purchased by Hoboob was classified in the second grade category, for which payment was slightly less.